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Lyndhurst resident leads authorities to suspected IRS refund check scam

Photo Credit: Courtesy Lyndhurst PD

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: A vigilant Lyndhurst resident led police to two men found fishing through mailboxes for tax refund checks, in what has become a federal investigation into bogus IRS returns.

Victor Valencia, Leandro Mendez (MUGSHOTS: Courtesy Lyndhurst PD)

“This once again proves the value of  ‘When you see something, say something’,” Lyndhurst Police Chief James O’Connor told CLIFFVIEW PILOT this morning. “If not for an observant resident, who knows what could have occurred?”

The resident called around 2:45 Thursday afternoon after spotting two men going through mailboxes on 400 box of Lake Avenue.

Detective Lt. Patrick Devlin and Detective Anthony Preite responded and spotted the men “at the front doors of two separate homes in the 300 block of Lake Avenue going through the mail,” Capt. John Valente said.

The officers learned that the pair were paid $100 a day to pull IRS checks from mailboxes at specific addresses, a source with direct knowledge of the arrests told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . The catch: The checks weren’t made out to the residents living there.

Devlin and Preite arrested both men, and police immediately notified both the U.S. Secret Service and federal postal inspectors.

Leandro Mendez, 19, and Victor Valencia, 20, both of whom are from the Dominican Republic and have recently been living in the Bronx, are being held on $10,000 bail each in the Bergen County Jail, charged with attempted theft and conspiracy.

Federal authorities issued an immigration detainer for Valencia, who apparently is in the country illegally, and will eventually take custody of him, police said.

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