Local Business (Almost) Falls Victim to Check Washing Scam

Owners Randy & Molly at Priceless Pet Services, located at 1 West 100th Street @ Central Park West

An Upper West Side small business was the unfortunate victim of a check washing scam, though their story – thanks in large part to the media – has a happy ending.

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The owners of Priceless Pet Services at 1 West 100th Street (near Central Park West) attempted to mail a check to Con Edison to pay an electric bill of $1,500 in October 2023. When slightly more than $20,000 was withdrawn from the business’s Chase account less than 48 hours later, Molly and Randy DeGesero knew something had gone horribly wrong.

“We were operating as if that money was gone,” Molly DeGesero, who has owned and operated Priceless Pet Services with her husband for more than 16 years, told ILTUWS. “We’re a little business going up against a big bank. At first it was almost like the bank didn’t care. Every time we called we got a different person.”

“If we hadn’t gotten the news involved, I don’t think anything would have changed,” Molly added.

Once they noticed the fraud, the DeGeseros immediately filed reports with the NYPD and claim forms with Chase. Documents were faxed back and forth. After months of frustration and a lack of progress, weekly phone calls with Chase turned to bi-weekly check-ins, with still no positive movement. In March, more than five months after the incident, Molly decided to reach out to 7 On Your Side, the local ABC affiliate, for help. The move would become a major turning point in a long, arduous saga.

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“A producer at 7 On Your Side said to me: ‘I can assure you that in ten days or less I will have your money back,’” Molly told ILTUWS. “I’m from NYC. I’m used to the local news helping small businesses. But I thought, ‘There’s no way.’”

Sure enough, 7 On Your Side ran the story and even sent multiple emails to Chase. The coverage prompted Chase executives to get involved. Less than ten days later, the DeGeseros had their money back.

“If it wasn’t for 7 On Your Side I don’t think this would have been resolved,” said Molly. “We’re really grateful.”

The DeGeseros’ pet care service – which includes boarding, training, walking and more – prides itself in giving back to the community. As sponsors of a local little league team and regular donors to the Central Park Conservancy, the couple decided to donate 10% of the returned funds (about $2,000) to the New York City ASPCA.

Check washing has become a rampant issue, not only in New York City but across the U.S. According to a January release from the Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection, there were more than 680,000 reports of suspicious check fraud in 2022 – more than twice the total for the prior year.

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According to 7 On Your Side, check washing scams in NYC are often gang related. Some perpetrators are using fishing line with a glue-like substance to pull mail out of mailboxes. Detectives told the DeGeseros that some scammers are getting jobs at banks to help push the check deposits through. Checks of more than $20,000 typically take 5-7 days to deposit, but the fraudulent deposit that victimized the DeGeseros came out of their account in less than 48 hours.

Tips on how to prevent check washing – which include delivering checks directly to the post office as opposed to mailing through a blue box – can be found here.


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