7 On Your Side helps keep New Jersey hot dog shop on a roll after check fraud

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- Stealing and forging checks is nothing new, but is it getting easier to do because of mobile phone banking?

Check fraud costs consumers and banks $900 million per year. One local business was out thousands until reaching out to 7 On Your Side and Nina Pineda to help keep their hot dog shop on a roll.

Boulevard Drinks always covets top dog honors, and it has served customers in New Jersey since the Great Depression for 82 years.

Now because someone swiped a check out of the mail, the owners are in the red and struggling to keep their frank shop from folding up.

The trouble for the hot dog hangout started last June when the owners sent out an insurance check for $531 and dropped it in the mailbox on the corner.

But just two days after putting it in the mail, the check showed up -- it had been bleached and forged but was cashed, not by the insurance company, but by a criminal.

Effie Bardis was shocked.

"I said who wrote a check for $6,300," Bardis said.

Now written out to "Angelo," the devious criminal changed the amount from $531 to more than$6,300. And he deposited it by taking a photo of the altered check which the bank cashed.

"Taking a $6,300 hit by somebody who fraudulently took it is just too much," said Victor Victoratos, Effie's brother who had written the check and mailed it.

That's a lot of dogs to dish out. They still sell for just $2.25 and the family worries they'll have to close

So 7 On Your side went to bat for Boulevard Drinks, asking both banks to buck up for the mom and pop business. Within two days, the stolen money was returned to the account

"Thank you 7 On Your Side, you're amazing, what I could not do in five weeks, you did in less than week," Victoratos said.

Reps for both the banks said they were happy to work together to expedite a favorable resolution.

The big takeaway is: The first step to stopping check fraud is to monitor your bank account each week in order to catch any fraud. Remember, you have just 60 days to report fraud to your bank.

Next, sign up for automatic payments where bills will be paid from your bank account each month -- automatically.

And use online bill pay so you pay bills through your bank's website and never use a paper check again.

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