Thirteen people pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to stealing mail from May 2011 through December 2012 and using the information to counterfeit checks. Investigators reported that the mail theft ring operated in the Upstate from May 2001 to December 2012.
Investigators said the participants stole mail, altered checks stolen from the mail, and made counterfeit checks based on personal information obtained from the stolen mail. Often individuals were recruited to open bank accounts into which counterfeit checks were deposited and from which funds were withdrawn before the fraud could be detected. Hundreds of residents had their mail stolen during the months that the conspiracy was in operation.
Authorities said actual losses attributed to the mail theft and check cashing activities of the conspiracy exceeded $900,000. Investigators said some of the money stolen by the ring was used to buy methamphetamine. The maximum penalty the defendants can receive is a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment for five years, plus a special assessment of $100.