A Copley, Ohio mail carrier is facing a felony charge and is off the job, accused of stealing a check meant for a non-profit that designs wigs for kids with cancer.
Shanae Bingham, 23, of Akron is charged with theft. Copley police said Bingham is expected to turn herself in next week.
In October, Reniece Tatum organized a fundraiser at a Chipotle restaurant to benefit Dream A Wig, which empowers sick children, including those with cancer, by helping them design their own wigs. The non-profit is completely funded through donations.
Tatum used to work at Akron's Children's Hospital and was inspired to start the charity after seeing several kids lose their hair through chemotherapy treatments. Tatum is now a hair stylist at La Rue's House of Beauty in Akron.
"Hair is everything. It's like their crowning glory that the kids can have," Tatum said.
A few weeks after the fundraiser, Chipotle mailed Tatum a check for $414.10, but she never received it.
Tatum called Chipotle officials who informed her that the check had been cashed.
"I'm like, 'I'm sorry to say that's not good news because I didn't cash that check,'" Tatum told Cleveland-based WEWS.
According to Copley Police Chief Mike Mier, Bingham opened the envelope, signed the check, took a picture of it and then used a PNC Bank mobile app to deposit it into her own account.
Tatum, who thought she could trust her mail carrier, was stunned. The money would have paid for one wig for a sick child.
"For kids. It's children. I don't know how she can steal from a child," Tatum said. "I was like, oh my gosh, why would she do this? It's like, this is a good cause. Why would she do this?"
On Thursday morning, Bingham was questioned by a Copley detective and a special agent with the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General.
Mier said she confessed to stealing Tatum's check, but may not have realized it was meant to help children with cancer. She also admitted to stealing a second check that belonged to another resident.
"Hopefully, there are no other victims than the two that we've been notified about," Mier said.
Special Agent Scott Balfour with the USPS OIG said the worker has been suspended without pay and once the investigation is completed, it will likely be presented to a local prosecutor. He added that individuals convicted of mail theft are typically ordered to pay restitution.
"The vast majority of the Postal Service's 600,000 employees nationwide are hard-working, trustworthy individuals who would never consider stealing from the mail. However, when USPS OIG special agents receive an allegation of mail theft, we will conduct a thorough investigation and see that the employee is held accountable," Balfour said.
Since becoming a victim of fraud, Tatum has made many calls in an effort to get the donation that was meant for Dream A Wig, but she's still waiting for the money.
In the meantime, she feels betrayed and believes mobile banking apps should have more safeguards.
"If it don't say your name on that check that you've taken a picture and it links back up, absolutely not. I don't think that's right because it was just too easy for her," Tatum said.
She also said she believes Bingham should be fired.
"She's gonna have to lose her job," Tatum said. "She works for the post office."
In a statement, PNC Bank said it uses fraud detection, strong verification, data protection processes, and teams in place to reduce incidents of fraud.
"We are cooperating with law enforcement and don't comment on pending investigations," said PNC spokesperson Diane Zappas.