Steven Law, of Longcliffe Close, Shafton and his partner were on holiday when a new postbox appeared outside their house - confusing neighbours and family who turned up to tend to the property.
When they were called by Steven’s daughter, the pair grew concerned - and more so when they returned home to find the postbox had been removed.
Steven realised they had been the victims of postbox fraud - a scam whereby a fake postbox is temporarily set up outside a property so thieves can steal letters such as bills and bank statements, which contain enough information for scammers to fraudulently apply for bank accounts or credit cards.
While the incident occurred in August last year, the couple have been left dismayed that the legal process hasn’t led to a conviction - with banks unwilling to come forward due to them technically not losing anything.
This is despite the two still coming to terms with the financial and emotional impacts of the ordeal, as well as losing several items including intended gifts for family members to the fraudster.
“We got back from holiday in the middle of the night, and suddenly we had all these things to sort out,” said Steven, 51.
“He stole our identity, and tried to get bank accounts, Next cards.
“We had a letter from Virgin Money saying they were willing to give us a card, but we’d have to go into the office as the date of birth had been mistyped.
“It took months to take everything off our credit history.
“It’s unbelievable how cunning he was.
“It wasn’t the first time he’d done this, you can see that. How long has it been going on?”
Checking CCTV footage, Steven saw what appeared to be a man turning up to the house throughout the fortnight they were away and collecting mail before driving off.
The fraudster hadn’t secured the postbox to the drive, but had placed a sign on the front door asking people to use it rather than the existing letter box, and before they returned he’d taken it alongside his final haul.
The couple have reason to believe the offender was someone who knew when they would be away, and where they lived - and said there is a danger others could be targeted, as Steven’s daughter in Brierley had also seen the same happen at her house.