"That's a lot of money," says Hightower, an occupational therapist who works with kids. The money order was apparently counterfeit. It bounced. "That made me short for Christmas. I've been trying to catch up."
When Hightower told me his story, I presumed he'd bought his money order from postal worker Felicia Townsend, who was charged last week with stealing $28,642.31 customers paid for money orders.
So it appears Hightower is actually the victim of a new money-order scam, courtesy of a USPS employee.
Apparently, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night keeps some postal workers from padding their pockets.
When Hightower learned his money order had bounced, he was stunned. He's been using Postal Service money orders for years because "everyone accepts them. You know they're good."
He alerted three levels of managers and two postal inspectors to his problem. All assured him his complaint was legit.
In fact, he says, he was told at least 100 customers, whose losses totaled more than $100,000, had lodged similar complaints.
So, a money order bought at a U.S. Post Office bounces and the USPS admits there was a crime committed but won't reimburse the buyer of the money order.
Yeah, I'll buy my money orders at Wal-Mart.