What It Is
Mail theft is a federal crime and is defined as anyone taking any piece of mail, be it a letter or a package, for any purpose. This includes stealing from postage workers, from private mail boxes, from collection boxes and even from mail trucks.
How It Happens
When stolen account information or identities are used to make purchases that are shipped, scammers must find a way to pick up the merchandise. They will sometimes ship to a home of someone who is gone during the day or try to steal the package from the doorstep before the resident finds it. They may leave a note on the door to ask the delivery service to leave the package, then return to steal it. If you receive a package or find evidence that this has happened at your home, contact your local police department and the delivery or postal service involved.
A con-artist obtains information from death notices and sends authentic looking bills to the family who has recently lost a loved one. The family often pays them without question.
This swindle depends upon the victim's willingness to help his neighbor. A person dressed as a delivery man arrives at the victim's door with a package addressed to a neighbor. He explains that the neighbor is not home and asks the victim to accept the package. By paying the COD delivery charge and accepting the package, the victim will save his neighbor from waiting in long lines at the post office. When the neighbor arrives home and the package is opened, it is discovered that the victim has paid for a brick or other meaningless contents.
A victim develops what they believe to be a true romantic or employment relationship online. They agree to receive items and reship them overseas, convinced they are helping their sweetheart or legitimately doing their job. The victim may even get paid. The premise is these are items that are purchased with stolen funds and shipped to the victim (reshipper), who then reships them. This avoids the scrutiny of companies who will not ship overseas, and places the victim (reshipper) in the position of accomplice. The “job” is a scam and the sweetheart is not the person whose photo the victim has of this person they think they love. Sometimes the victim (reshipper) is told to pick up the items at a store, that have been already purchased online, then to ship the items per the instructions of the scammer. This way the victim uses their own ID at the store to pick up the items and is considered the suspect.
How to Avoid
- Verify all questionable bills.
- Don’t accept packages that you aren’t expecting.
- Never reship a package that wasn’t originated by you.
For more information on mail theft and postal fraud, contact the US Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455.