Rip-Off Alert: Scam artists pilfer mail for ID theft

LAS VEGAS (KSNV — Next time you see someone suspicious in your neighborhood, they might not be thinking about breaking into your house. In this Rip-Off Alert from Detroit, they might be intending to steal your identity.

Police arrested Frances and Aret Frangulyan after getting a 9-1-1 call about a suspicious car.

“These two people were in their neighborhood going through mailboxes, taking mail,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Carla Mendez.

When police pulled the car over, they found more than 750 pieces of mail. That discovery led to a search warrant of the Frangulyans’ home.

“We found various identifying information, other people’s credit card statements … a lot of stuff that didn’t belong to them,” Mendez said.

Postal inspectors also discovered the latest technology identity thieves use to commit their crime.

“They can make credit cards, they can make drivers licenses, they can forge checks,” Mendez said. “There is check making software they can use to make checks that look pretty good. They look real to the banking system.”

How can you protect yourself from identity theft? Postal inspectors say there are several ways.

“You keep track of all of your identifying information,” Mendez said. “If you are mailing a bill with a check in it, make sure to take it to a post office or a blue collection box.”

Another piece of advice is to be aware of the mail delivery schedule in your neighborhood.

“Know when the mail person comes to your house and delivers the mail and try not to let it sit overnight or if you are on vacation forget to put a hold,” Mendez said.

The suspects in this case were convicted. Frances Frangulyan received probation and her husband, Aret, is serving two years in prison on stolen property charges, larceny and ID theft.

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