PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A Defuniak Springs man was sentenced to 45 months in federal prison for stealing checks between March and July 2019, according to a release from the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

Charlie James Rhodes, 43, drove around neighborhoods in the Fort Walton Beach area looking for mailbox flags that were raised, “indicating the presences of outgoing mail,” according to the release.

Rhodes then would steal the mail and take personal checks from the homeowners.

“Once found, he would wash the checks, make himself or one of his aliases the payee, and increase the payment amount,” reads the release. “Finally, he would take the checks to local banks and cash them.”

Using the scheme, he stole over 30 checks for more than $35,000. According to the release, Rhodes served time in Alabama from 2019 to 2022 for a similar scheme. Rhodes was arrested in Enterprise, Ala. in 2019 where he was found with several checks in his car waiting to be cashed.

“Frauds, such as this one, which target the elderly and compromise essential institutions, such as the mail and our banking system, are serious federal offenses and violators will be prosecuted,” said U.S. Attorney Coody. “With the assistance of our dedicated law enforcement partners, we are committed to investigating and prosecuting those who engage in acts of fraud.”

Rhodes will serve three years of supervised release after his sentence.

“Identity theft and fraud are a continuing problem in our society,” said Sheriff Eric Aden. “I commend the hard work of our investigators to hold these individuals accountable and our department will continue to aggressively pursue all who engage in this type of criminal activity.”