Washington, D.C. – A U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigation uncovered a sophisticated and organized fraud scheme and led to over eighty defendants being charged by the California Attorney General’s Office for grand theft, money laundering and conspiracy.
The multi-year investigation involved suspects depositing altered checks stolen from the U.S. Mail into numerous bank accounts at various major banking institutions. The masterminds behind this scheme recruited individuals on social media to open bank accounts or utilize the individuals’ own checking accounts in an attempt to conceal the suspects’ identities when depositing the forged checks. These suspects are accused of stealing nearly five million dollars from hundreds of victims across California.
On October 6 and 7, 2022, a wide-ranging law enforcement sweep composed of 34 teams from local, state, and federal agencies arrested a total of 56 suspects. The teams included members of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Bakersfield Police Department, Hermosa Beach Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Marshals, California State Parole Agents, Los Angeles County Probation, Long Beach Police Department, and the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is dedicated to defending the nation’s mail system from criminal activity and preserving the integrity of the U.S. Mail. We value our law enforcement partners and the California Attorney General’s Office for supporting our mission. Joint operations like this one, as well as the “Project Safe Delivery” initiative, are vital to protecting our employees and customers and safeguarding the mail from would-be thieves.
“The American public have an expectation when it comes to their mail,” said Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale. “They expect it to be safe. Not tampered with. Not stolen. It’s the responsibility of the United States Postal Inspection Service to make sure the mail is secure. And when mail is stolen and checks are altered, as we saw in this case, Postal Inspectors are committed to ferreting out those responsible and bringing them to justice. The coordinated effort with our partner law enforcement agencies to dismantle this criminal enterprise is a perfect example of the way law enforcement is supposed to work.”
It is important to note that a criminal indictment contains charges that are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.