Consumer Alert: Thieves get away with thousands in mail fraud scheme

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 dollars and left a trail of victims in their wake.

Police say a private citizen captured on video the moment a man drove up to her mailbox and removed the envelopes inside.

"We felt like we needed to do something. We did tape them putting their hand in our mailbox," says Simone Khalin, a fraud victim.

Khalin and her family knew something was wrong when they began finding pieces of their mail in the road, along with envelopes addressed to different names in their mailbox.

"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," says Khalin.

"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," says U.S. Postal Inspector Reldys Torres.

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," Torres explains.

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," says 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," says Torres.

In all, 50 victims lost a total of around $150,000 dollars. Postal Inspectors have some important advice to protect yourself.

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

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 seven years in prison. One of the other suspects was sentenced to three years and the third suspect was sentenced to two years behind bars.

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