San Antonio man received someone else’s stimulus check, so he found the rightful owner

Megan Armstrong San Antonio News

Updated 5:48 pm CDT, Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Earlier this month, many Americans anxiously refreshed their mobile banking apps and checked their mailboxes in search of their economic stimulus checks from the IRS.

Last Friday, the mailbox at Albert Reyna’s Northwest Side apartment was the landing place for someone else’s check, which was mailed to a former tenant of the apartment Reyna now lives in.

Reyna did not open the envelope, but could see through the window that a check was enclosed. While millions of Americans received their payments through previously used IRS direct deposit information, those who did not have their bank account details listed where mailed their checks to their last known address.

Though the name of the rightful owner was a common one, Reyna employed the help of Facebook friends to return the money that so many residents are depending on during the pandemic.

READ MORE: The latest news and features about coronavirus in San Antonio

What Reyna didn’t anticipate was the number of people with the same name as the recipient trying “desperately” to trick him into giving them the relief check. He said the messages and comments were non-stop in the days-long search for the rightful owner

“It was a shame how money hungry they were,” he said.

By the time the previous tenant reached out to retrieve his mail, Reyna said he was frustrated by all of the other attempts to commit identity theft. He was also more suspicious.

“I wanted this check to go to the right person,” Reyna added. “I needed proof.”

Even an ID, old pieces of mail, which bore the right name and apartment address, didn’t suffice for Reyna to hand over the check. It wasn’t until the claimant correctly answered questions about the apartment landlord that Reyna said he was able to confidently put the envelope in the right hands.

“I could see him walking back to his car, so happy,” he said.

Reyna said the young man started tearing up and offered him a tip for returning the mail. He said he wasn’t expecting anything in return, but the gesture was “more than enough” for some tacos to celebrate his birthday on Saturday.

Reyna hasn’t received his check, but said he’s not bothered by it.

“I have my place, I have food and my car is paid for,” he said. “God is providing for me regardless.”

He deleted the Facebook posts once the search for the right person was complete. He said the signal boost picked up a viral amount of shares, comments and incessant messages for both himself and the family the check belonged to. Though Reyna is disappointed in the number of people who tried taking money that didn’t belong to them, he is looking at the experience as a positive.

“It was a good deed,” he said. “We just happened to see what kind of people are really out there and that’s never going to change.”

Madalyn Mendoza covers news and puro pop culture for | [email protected] | @maddyskye