Christmas tips scam

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist and former paperboy Jim Stingl reported Wednesday that a scammer has been trying to steal newspaper carriers’ Christmas tips by putting holiday letters in subscribers’ mailboxes and newspaper tubes, leading them to believe he’s their carrier. The thief, who gives an address where people can send their tips, tells his “customers”:

Looking back, I’ve made it through heavy snow, blinding rain, fog, hail, subzero temperatures, generally some really crummy weather. But with early hours also comes the pleasure of seeing some beautiful sunrises and nature and wildlife. …

It’s been a pleasure delivering papers, and I hope those that I have delivered to have been satisfied with my service. When I set out in the morning, I approach the job with those individuals in mind. They are not just a stop on my route, and I look to keep them happy.

Stingl reports the scammer may have solicited tips from up to 1,000 families, and that a real newspaper carrier has sent a letter to his customers urging them to “not send this joker any money.”

The update:

I asked Stingl last night if his Wednesday column brought in reports of additional scammers or any other news. He reports in an email:

I’m told by Waukesha police today that they arrested TWO suspects and they’re seeking fraud charges against one or both. The mastermind, who is not the guy who signed the scam letters, is a Journal Sentinel carrier who was preying on other carriers’ routes. Our circulation department tells me he’s been fired.

Meanwhile, Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich wrote yesterday that her carrier was the victim of a scammer last Christmas and, as a result, didn’t get as many Christmas tips. She’s sympathetic. “I used to ignore the carrier’s card in my newspaper. I didn’t like feeling pressured, and by a stranger. I thought there should be a better way to make this work pay. I still wish there were. But for now, there’s not, and so I tip.”

* Carriers’ tips diverted to slimy scam artist (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Newspaper carriers deserve a little extra (Chicago Tribune)