Authorities Friday announced the arrests of 56 people across Southern California allegedly involved in a long-running mail- and check- fraud scheme that officials say bilked more than 700 victims out of nearly $5 million.
Beginning in 2018, perpetrators “allegedly deposited altered checks stolen from the U.S. mail into numerous bank accounts,” Carroll Harris, inspector in charge of the Los Angeles County Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said during a news conference announcing the arrests.
“The suspects would swiftly withdraw the money before the financial institutions discovered the checks were forged,” he said. “The masterminds behind this scheme would recruit individuals on social media to open bank accounts or utilize their own checking accounts to deposit the fraudulent checks and hide their identification.”
State Attorney General Rob Bonta said 769 people were victimized in a scheme that affected people in California, Nevada, and Arizona. He said a total of 88 defendants were being charged in the case, for a total of 330 felony counts.
“These crimes leave a trail of victims,” Bonta said. “In this case, it was 769 victims. Hundreds of families whose hard-earned money was brazenly stolen. We’re talking about birthday checks from grandma, paychecks — hard-earned paychecks — from employers, stolen, never received. There needs to be accountability for these crimes, and there will be.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said deputies and other law enforcement fanned out across the region Thursday, serving 75 warrants.
“The ringleaders and suspects involved in this scheme are reported members of two notorious L.A. County criminal street gangs,” Villanueva said. He said perpetrators would steal checks from the mail, then “wash” them, replacing the name of the recipient with a forged name, then deposit the checks and withdraw the cash.
Operation “Checks in the Mail” included 16 teams from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and eight teams from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, in addition to teams from the 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 suspects are facing charges including “aggravated white collar crime in excess of $500,000,” “aggravated white collar crime in excess of $100,000,” conspiracy to commit grand theft by false pretenses, forgery relating to an item exceeding $950, money laundering, and grand theft by false pretense.
The DOJ’s Crime Unit has filed charges in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, according to Bonta’s office.
The unit investigates and prosecutes large-scale, multi-jurisdictional criminal organizations, networks, and groups that perpetrate identity theft crimes, use an electronic device or network to facilitate a crime, or commit a crime targeting an electronic device, network, or intellectual property.
4 comments for "Dozens arrested in mail fraud operation involving nearly $5 million in losses"
I wonder if these also were income tax checks, I been trying to get ahold of the IRS, but can not, it says my check was sent AND CASHED!!!!
What about the money taken from Lancaster tax payers every day on insider no bid pet projects like LEAPS, Kensington and Ecolution? Don’t forget the millions we had to pay for the lawsuits thanks to our mayor’s big mouth.
P G says
PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL, IT’S VERY IMPORTANT YOU READ UNTIL YOUR END . I have been trying to contact anyone on your crew regarding fraud against a person who I believe to be a” dirty cop” this person has been on the force about 30 years. I have enough proof to show anyone that will listen. It also involves a la county clerk. THIS IS NOT A JOKE. I believe he they have stolen a half million dollars from me alone! I believe they have used there positions to do this. Also, if someone could just arrange a meeting with me to see what I have to show them, then they can form their own opinion that would be a good thing. They make it extremely hard to contact . Email email@example.com
A few years back I had a money order stolen and Forged from me in LA. Luckily I was able to recover the $. GREED is rampant in our society and we’re all to blame for it! Welive in a greedy ass country.