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Norridge Mom Says Thief Doctored And Successfully Cashed Her Mortgage Check, And Getting Her Money Back Could Take Months

NORRIDGE, Ill. (CBS) -- A suburban mom said a check she sent was full of red flags showing it had been stolen and doctored when it made it to the bank – someone had gone in manually and changed letters and numbers, and even whited out the pay-to line and written something else.

Still, as CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported Tuesday night, the Norridge mom said the thief successfully cashed her mortgage check – and it all left her in a horrible bind. Now, she, Norridge police, and the bank are all trying to figure out how the check got intercepted after she dropped in a mailbox.

We met Brook Heyden as she sat at the table helping her kids play a word search game that had her son stumped as he looked for words like "prizes" and "game." Heyden herself is stumped by something else – something sinister in nature that as far from a game as can be.

The single mother wants to find more than $4,000 that she says was stolen from her checking account.

"I kind of feel violated, like someone went into my personal space and took my money," Heyden said.

She first knew there was a problem when her mortgage company reached out.

"First, the mortgage company was stalking me - wondering where my payment was - and I kept saying, 'I already mailed you this check,' and I said, 'Let me check my checking account to see if the check cleared,'" Heyden said.

When she checked her Chase account, she realized the check cleared for way more than what she says it was written for.

Brooke Heyden Doctored Check
(Supplied by Brooke Heyden)

"I couldn't believe my eyes, because the check was written for $1,000 - and they changed it to $4,000," Heyden said, "and I've never written a check for that large sum of money."

When Heyden got a copy of the check, she noticed that someone not only went in by hand and changed the numeral 1 in $1,000 to a numeral 4 to make it $4,000, but also tried to change the handwritten letters where the dollar amount must be written out from 'O-N-E' to 'F-O-U-R' - in Heyden herself did not find convincing at all.

"It clearly says 'one thousand' in actual written dollar amount," Heyden said.

And the biggest red flag, Heyden said, is that someone changed the "pay to the order of" name to what appears to be "Bria Martin."

"I thought, 'Wow, OK, that does not say 'AmeriSave Mortgage,'" she said. "It's clear that someone whited out the original pay-to name."

It is not clear where the fraud happened, but we know she placed the check in a mailbox on Montrose Avenue in Norridge. Yet after going to her Chase Bank, Heyden said the manager told her: "She contacted their fraud department and said that there was nothing they could do. I had to wait through the investigation."

Heyden said she was told the investigation could take a minimum of 30 days – but up to 90 days before getting her money back.

"I work really hard, and go to school at night, to try to better myself for my kids as a single mom - to be able to provide for them," she said.

Chase told us Tuesday night that it is aware of Heyden's complaint, and has launched an investigation. The bank said it is working quickly to resolve the issue, but a spokesperson could not say just how long that will take.

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