The U.S. Postal Service is facing backlash over the rise in check washing. Check washing is the sort of crime you saw in Catch Me if You Can, where an individual will steal a check from someone else, remove the name from the check, and put their own name on the check before cashing it. Obviously, that is a crime similar to forgery and fraud. However, these five suspects are accused of targeting the U.S. Postal service, which leaves them vulnerable to federal prosecution for specific crimes targeting interstate commerce. Authorities allege that the men had illegal access to stolen mailbox keys that they used to raid U.S. mailboxes. They targeted checks in the mail, washed them, and then cashed them under fraudulent names.
Possession of the mailbox key alone is a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison. Three of the defendants are also facing charges related to the theft of mail. Often, these checks are sold on the internet.
Postal Service Apologies for Lack of Transparency
Over 1000 checks have been stolen from Illinois mailboxes since last December, according to reports. Many of the victims and their advocates have been putting pressure on the USPS for answers about what they are doing to bring the perpetrators to justice. At this point, the five arrests are about all we know about the current state of the investigation. This likely means that USPS believes that there are some conspirators within USPS who are helping the fraudsters facilitate their enterprise. Hence, they do not want to spook anyone who currently feels comfortable, or perhaps they do want to spook them, but they do not want a potential defendant to know what they have. In a lot of cases, investigations are similar to poker matches. You can play the cards in your hand or play the individuals you are competing against. But lingering questions concerning how members of the public came into the possession of postal box keys are likely phase two of the investigation.
How Were They Caught?
That is a good question. Again, the prosecuting attorneys who announced charges did not say how they were caught. They likely want to pressure the five defendants into providing evidence against anyone who provided them with mailbox keys. At this point, they will be going through their contacts, phone records, and internet conversations to determine who they were communicating with and how the keys came into their possession. However, if that comes up dry, they may have at least three defendants who are facing more than a decade in prison on various charges.
At this point, little is known about the investigation, how the perpetrators were caught, or how the perpetrators came into the possession of mailbox keys. None of the defendants are listed as USPS employees.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
David Freidberg represents the interests of Chicago residents charged by the federal government with serious crimes. Call today at (312) 560-7100, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.