Mail Theft Offers Easy Avenue for Identity Theft

It’s all in your mail. Bank accounts and credit card numbers – your most sensitive financial information. Just one case of mail theft netted thieves $150,000 and left a trail of victims in their wake.

Home video taken by a private citizen shows a man driving up to her mailbox and removing the envelopes inside.

“We felt like we needed to do something. We did tape them putting their hand in our mailbox,” fraud victim Simone Khalin said.

Simone and her family began finding pieces of their mail in the road.

They also started finding envelopes addressed to different names in their mailbox. they knew something was wrong.

“We felt like these people were waiting for the mailman to drop off the mail in the mailbox and they were right away after. Gone in two seconds,” said Simone.

That’s when the Khalins decided to videotape their mailbox. their instinct was right.

“Lucky for us we were able to get video from the victim where it showed the actual suspect reaching into not only their mailbox but the mailbox of their neighbors across the street, said Reldys Torres, US Postal Inspector.

Postal inspectors were quickly able to track down the truck and the suspects and unravel the scam.

“They would take your mail, your Bank statements, or your W2 forms, or info if you were in the hospital. That information would then have your name, account number, bank, address. With a couple of phone calls they would re-order credit cards, debit cards, and your PIN number and have it mailed back to the same address,” said Torres.

Since the mail was being delivered to the same address as the legitimate bank or credit card holder, the bank never suspected anything was wrong.

“At ATM’s they would withdraw money, obviously, at stores they would buy high end computer equipment; iPads, phones… for resale value,” explained Torres.

Consumers often don’t know their identity has been stolen until their next bank statement arrives a month later.

“By the time the victims realize what was going on it was 30 days past and the credit card was already used or maxed out – it’s gone and on to the next victim,” Torres said.

In all – 50 victims lost $150,000. In all, postal inspectors have some important advice.

“If they do see someone in their mailbox that is not a mailman contact us immediately, contact the police immediately,” said Torres.

Postal inspectors say the three suspects in this mail fraud and id theft ring were well known to law enforcement. The mastermind of the scheme was sentenced to 7 years in prison. One of the other suspects—three years and the third suspect—two years behind bars.

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