TREDYFFRIN TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Tredyffrin Township police have arrested one man and are searching for others in connection with a massive mail fraud ring.
Police believe the thieves are working in roughly 39 jurisdictions including some out of state.
The case was broken wide open with the December 2021 arrest of Bruno Nyanue.
According to police, Nyanue was seen lurking around an outside postal box by the Paoli Post Office.
There was a brief chase and then a crash. Police say they recovered more than 600 stolen checks, stolen gift cards and credit cards.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Zidane Gallimore in connection with the investigation.
Police believe Gallimore was working with Nyanue but don't believe the two men are the ring leaders.
In fact, investigators believe about 90 additional people are part of the ring working as mules. Police say they are being hired through a cash-for-checks Instagram ad.
"What they do is they steal the mail. They go through the mail. They take the checks. They wash them (and) use an acetone solution to take the ink off the check. Then they reissue the check with different names, different accounts and they deposit them. They're getting into the mailboxes after hours and taking the entire lot of mail that are in those mailboxes," said Lt. Tyler Moyer.
Vito Giannandrea, who owns San Nicola Restaurant in Paoli, was one of the victims.
While he was online banking in November, he noticed a check that was pending. It was cashed by someone with a name he didn't recognize, and the name of his restaurant was spelled incorrectly.
"Luckily, I was able to catch it on time. Like an angel was looking after me that morning," said Giannandrea.
Turns out all the checks he had recently dropped off at the Paoli Post Office were stolen, but since he alerted his bank, they froze his account and luckily he did not lose any money.
"If all the checks came back to me after it was frozen, they would've been around $50,000 to $65,000 had they gone through," said Giannandrea.
Anyone experiencing similar check fraud can contact your local police department or the United States Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.
Due to the nature of the thefts, authorities strongly discourage placing outgoing mail, particularly checks, in personal or external United States Post Office mailboxes at this time.
If online bill pay is not available, mail should be deposited inside of your nearest local United States Post Office.
If anyone has any information on the whereabouts of Zidane Gallimore, you are asked to contact the Tredyffrin Township Police Department at 610.644.3221.