Mail Identity Theft: 10/13/11-10/27/11

Daughter Arrested, Mother Wanted On ID Theft Charges
Prosecutors: Cassandra Janine Ghirardi Stole Mail To Create Fake Checks, ID’s

HMGH Denver – 10/27/11

(GOLDEN, COLORADO) “A mother-daughter team has been indicted, accused of operating an identity theft ring where they stole mail and created fake checks to buy products that they would resell on eBay.

Deputies have arrested 27-year-old Alexandra Wilde and have an arrest warrant for her mother, 45-year-old Cassandra Janine Ghirardi.

golden_CO_mail thiefThe Arvada women were indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury on suspicion of operating an identity theft ring in the Denver metro area between October 2010 and March 2011.

Prosecutors said Ghirardi is alleged to have stolen mail from mailboxes, then used the stolen personal and financial information to create fraudulent checks and identification. […]

The Arvada Police Department and the US Postal Inspection Service began their joint investigation into their operation in March 2011. The 64-count indictment was handed down on Sept. 28 and includes counts of racketeering, identity theft, conspiracy, and money laundering.

According to court records Ghirardi often used names of actual victims whose mail she had stolen. At other times she used fictitious names or created names that were similar to the actual victims’. […]”

COMMENTS: Isn’t that quaint? A mother-daughter mail-identity theft team. Now that’s family bonding! Seriously, though, mail theft is a long time problem in the Denver metro area and surrounding suburbs. Residents need to take precautions to protect themselves! Specifically, use a high security locking mailbox like the MailBoss to protect incoming mail, never send sensitive documents (checks, bill payments, etc.) from an unlocked mailbox, and always shred personal information (much of which comes in the mail) before discarding it!

Stolen Mail in Country Estates Causes Post Office to Caution Residents
Encinitas Patch – 10/27/11

(RAMONA, CALIFORNIA) “Mail was stolen last week from mailboxes near the corner of Vista Ramona and Sargeant roads in the Country Estates, according to Ramona Postmaster Andree Sauls. He said the Sheriff’s Department and Postal Inspectors were called out to investigate.

Sauls said it happened between 1 and 3 a.m. one morning mid-week. Mail theft isn’t uncommon as holiday seasons approach, he said. […]

He said thieves broke into several individual mail boxes in two or three multi-box units in the vicinity. They vandalized them and took mail, dropping some on the road, he said.

“We haven’t necessarily had checks stolen in Ramona, but it can happen anywhere. Thieves elsewhere have been known to steal checks, wash them and write on them,” Sauls said. “They can take gift cards too.”

As the holidays approach, he advises Ramona residents to take outgoing mail to the drop box at the post office instead of leaving it in their mail boxes. It might be especially important not to leave mail in a box with a flag up, one of the postal clerks told Patch. […]

COMMENTS: It sounds like this postmaster is in denial. Mail theft is a problem everywhere! If it’s being reported (mailboxes are actually being PRIED OPEN) that means it’s actually a pretty big problem. Most of the time victims of mail theft don’t even realize their mail has been stolen – who really knows what comes in the mail from day to day? And many thieves are savvy enough to leave the junk mail so you suspect nothing. Really, in your mail they can find information for ID theft. It’s no wonder the majority of ID theft victims have no idea how their information was compromised.

Not JUST during the holidays, but always, residents need to take precaution with their mail! Mail includes account numbers, social security statements, etc. – all sensitive information you do not want in the wrong hands. Use a high security locking mailbox that cannot be easily pried open to protect incoming mail. Do not send sensitive mail (think checks, bill payments) from an unlocked mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure. And finally, shred all sensitive documents (most of which come in the mail!) before discarding them to thwart dumpster divers.

Burlco mail thefts investigated
Courier Post -10/27/11

(TABERNACLE, NEW JERSEY) ” State troopers in Burlington County are investigating a rash of vandalisms and thefts from mailboxes this month.

burlco mail thiefState police said since Oct. 2 they have received at least 24 reports of mailboxes being vandalized or mail being stolen in areas around Shamong and Tabernacle. Homeowners have also reported vandalism to things like shrubs.

In some cases, residents have reported checks and other mail items being stolen from their mailboxes.
The incidents have occurred at night and mostly on weekends, police said.

State police have discovered surveillance video of some people who may be involved in the incidents and are working to identify those persons.”

COMMENTS: It is unusual for mailbox vandals to be the same individuals stealing mail. Typically the vandals are delinquents and drunks looking for a “good time” whereas the thieves are meth heads looking to steal your personal info for ID theft. Not to stereotype or anything, but just saying… Burlington County may need to be looking for multiple individuals here.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Red Lion State Police Detective Bureau at (609) 859-2282.

Police Report: Theft of Mail
Waukesha Patch – 10/27/11

(WAUKESHA, WI) “[…] Mailboxes were damaged at 8:52 a.m. Tuesday in the 1600 block of Legend Hill Lane. […] Mailboxes were damaged at 8:52 a.m. Tuesday in the 1600 block of Legend Hill Lane. […]”

COMMENTS: Mail Boss will stop theft of your incoming mail! This is the second time in the last month a mail theft story has come through the Waukesha Patch Probably time to take preventative action! In Waukesha, you can get the Mail Boss locking security mailbox at Tomchek Ace Hardware or Olson’s Ace Hardware, if you ask for it by name and reference vendor number 38261.

State police looking for vandals who damaged mailboxes and stole mail – 10/26/11

(BURLINGTON COUNTY, NEW JERSEY) “The New Jersey State Police have released surveillance photographs of five people suspected of committing numerous incidents of vandalism and mail theft in Tabernacle, Shamong and Southampton this month.

An undisclosed number of mailboxes were damaged along with other property. Also, mail was stolen from several boxes.

No damage estimate for the vandalism was released. Police said that most of the incidents occurred in Shamong and Tabernacle, but that some Southampton homes also were vandalized.

The photograph was taken Oct. 16 between midnight and 2 a.m. on Summit Drive in Tabernacle. Police said the incidents of vandalism and mail theft began that night. […]”

COMMENTS: The great thing about the Mail Boss is that, not only is it virtually theft-proof, it can also take a baseball bat, no problem. Don’t take our word for it. Watch this video!

Clayton Police arrest woman for early morning mail theft on Mitchell Canyon Rd.
Contra Costa Blog – 10/25/11

(CLAYTON, CALIFORNIA) “The Clayton Police arrested a 33-year-old woman after several residents called to report their mail was missing, and a suspicious person was seen in the neighborhood at about 5-o’clock this morning.

Chief Dan Lawrence says when Clayton Police Officer Rich Enea arrived at the scene on Mitchell Canyon Road, he located the suspect, along with several pieces of mail that didn’t belong to her.

The suspect was identified as 33-year-old Clayton resident Leigha Nocera.”

COMMENTS: We’ve seen so many reports of mail theft come through on the Contra Costa Blog… by now everyone in the area should know, your mail is not safe in your curbside mailbox. Prevent mail-identity theft with a high security locking mailbox like the MailBoss.

Crime Blotter: Missing Mail and Unlocked Cars
La Cañada Flintridge Patch – 10/23/11

(LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA) “Mail Theft: Three incidents of mail theft were reported to the sheriff’s department.

On Saturday, October 7, a resident in the 4800 block of Del Monte Road reported that a check she usually receives each month was missing and that she had not received mail in a week despite usually receiving mail every day. She believed her credit card statements were among the items stolen from her mailbox.

On Wednesday, October 12, a resident in the 4600 block of Vineta Avenue was alerted by a neighbor that the doors to all the mailboxes on the street had been found open. The victim checked her mailbox expecting to find mail from the day before but discovered it empty except for a flyer. The victim noted the she usually receives numerous pieces of mail each day and that her property tax bill was missing.

On the same day, a resident in the 4700 block of Hampton Road reported finding all the mailbox doors open on the street and no mail in his mailbox. He contacted the post office and was advised that mail had been delivered to his address the previous day.

Approximately one month ago, Patch reported a mail theft in the 300 block of Corona Drive. […]”

COMMENTS: It’s so easy for thieves to steal your mail from your mailbox. They act nonchalant about it and do it right in broad daylight!!! With all the sensitive financial information that comes in the mail, it really makes sense to use a security locking mailbox, one that can’t be easily broken into.

Chippewa Falls man accused of stealing checks from mail
The Chippewa Herald – 10/22/11

(CHIPPEWA FALLS, WISCONSIN) “A Chippewa Falls man is facing felony charges for stealing checks from people’s mailboxes and depositing them in his account.

Trevor D. Cartwright, 18, 25 N. Main St. #3, is charged with two counts each of identity theft for financial gain, misdemeanor theft, and unauthorized opening of letters.

According to the complaint: In August, a check meant to pay a credit card bill was taken from one mailbox, and another check meant as a birthday gift was taken from another. Cartwright then deposited the two checks, totaling $287.89, into his account, signing the checks with his own name, with no signature by the payee, through an ATM machine. He then took $300 of cash from the ATM machine, then did another deposit of $60 of the cash. The bank flagged the transaction as suspicious.”

COMMENTS: If you are looking for a solution to prevent mail-identity theft, look no further than the Mail Boss locking security mailbox. Near Chippewa Falls, you can find the Mail Boss at Tru-Lock & Security in Eau Claire, or Mills Fleet Farm in Menomonie.

Crime reporter’s notebook
Kitsap Crime and Justice – 10/18/11

(KITSAP COUNTY, WASHINGTON) “[…] Stolen mail: A witness to a car sifting through mailboxes on Sandy Hook Road NE and Dock Street NE called 911, according to sheriff’s reports. A Suquamish officer in the area stopped the suspected car and the two people inside were interviewed. A bag of mail belonging to addresses in Silverdale, Poulsbo, and along Sandy Hook Road was spotted in the car. Both suspects have been charged by prosecutors with theft. […]”

COMMENTS: Sounds like they’re getting off with a misdemeanor charge, whereas actually mail theft is a federal offense! These crooks will be back at it in no time. The best protection is a good defense: prevent mail-identity theft with a high security locking mailbox!

S.C. woman part of identify theft investigation
Anderson Independent Mail – 10/18/11

(CARNESVILLE, GEORGIA) “The investigation continues into what authorities say was a mail theft and identity fraud scheme.

Franklin County authorities arrested Theresa Miner Grell, 43, of Cowpens, S.C., on Oct. 11 as she entered the UPS office on Busha Road in Carnesville to pick up a number of packages.

“We’d had a complaint where some mail had been taken. Apparently, this lady had ordered some items by UPS in the victim’s name,” said Franklin County Sheriff Stevie Thomas. “Our investigators and the U.S. Postal Service were notified.”

Thomas said Grell was making purchases with credit card numbers she got from mail taken out of mailboxes in Carnesville and Lavonia.

“We learned in early September that Grell was using the stolen mail that included financial documents to access and apply for fraudulent accounts of the victims,” said Jimmy LeCroy, Franklin County sheriff’s investigator.

At the time of her arrest, sheriff’s investigators obtained a warrant to search her vehicle, where they say they found a large quantity of stolen mail. Investigators in Franklin County said they have been able to link Grell with multiple mail thefts in the Carnesville and Lavonia areas.

She is also being questioned in numerous identity thefts of victims in Hart County.

“Basically, she went up to mailboxes in Hart County as well and would only take some items out of the mailbox,” Thomas said. “Hart County investigators came over and interviewed her too.”

After her arrest, authorities executed several search warrants at a home Grell has in Hart County on Oct. 11. Officials said they uncovered more stolen mail along with financial records generated by Grell. Investigators said they also seized a quantity of methamphetamine, firearms and stolen property.

LeCroy said people in several parts of Franklin County need to continue to monitor their bank statements and credit card statements.

“They need to continue to review their financial records for any suspicious activity, especially personal checking accounts, credit cards and other financial statements,” he said. “The areas of concern are Whiting Road-Lavonia, Highway (Ga.) 59 between Lavonia and Carnesville, and the Highway (Ga.) 63 area of Franklin County. Citizens are urged to contact your local law enforcement center if any related activity is discovered.”

[…] In early 2010, Grell was convicted in federal court of mail theft and identity theft.”

COMMENTS: Mail theft is a leading cause of identity theft and it is an epidemic (like the methamphetamine abuse that often fuels it) across the nation. To protect yourself use a high security locking mailbox like Mail Boss to secure incoming mail, and never send sensitive outgoing mail from an unsecured mailbox. Take checks and bill payments directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure.

Pair plead guilty in identity theft scheme – 10/18/11

(SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA) “Two Stockton residents, investigated as co-conspirators in an identity-theft scheme, pleaded guilty Friday to a number of charges in federal court.

Frank Antwoine Johnson, 33, and Courtney L. Williams, 24, face up to 30 years in prison and a $750,000 fine for possession of stolen mail.

On June 8, Johnson and Williams were seen pulling over their van alongside mailboxes and stealing mail.

Patrol officers stopped the van and found hundreds of pieces of stolen mail and evidence that the pair were profiling people for identity theft.

Johnson pleaded guilty to possession of stolen U.S. mail, credit card fraud and unauthorized possession of identification documents. He admitted to possessing at least five identifications that didn’t belong to him, and at least 15 devices to access account and credit card information.

Williams pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, failure to appear and possession of stolen U.S. mail. She used a false identification when she was arrested and during the federal court proceedings.

Alisha Grim, 40, a third co-conspirator also from Stockton, is charged with mail theft, possession and identity theft offenses. Grim is expected in court Monday in Sacramento.”

COMMENTS: Sacramento has a long-time problem with mail-identity theft. To protect yourself, the solution is simple: use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss, available in Sacramento at Emigh Ace Hardware.

Mail thefts reported in northern Pulaski County
Today’s THV – 10/14/11

(PULASKI COUNTY, ARKANSAS) “Some Pulaski County neighbors are keeping a closer eye on their mailboxes these days, after recent reports of mail thefts. The victims tell us that someone got away with a combined seven bill payments with personal check information.

Authorities have not yet found a suspect in this case. But a neighbor who witnessed the suspect steal the mail on Wednesday told the sheriff’s office that the suspect appeared to be a young woman, driving a dark-colored, two-door vehicle, possibly metallic blue.

The latest cases from this week only involve two homes. But the victims want to get the word out about this because they feel there could be more.

Up until last week, Harold and Jan Davenport never had problems using their mailbox.

“Our neighbor saw this lady pull up across the street, opened our mailbox and she said, that isn’t their car,” Harold Davenport said.

Davenport says “that lady” stole their mail, including a $100 check to a credit union.

“We looked in our mailbox and our check, our mail was gone,” Harold Davenport said.

The same thing happened to a nearby homeowner on Wednesday. The owners tell us off camera that six checks were taken. Davenport actually found one, left behind on the street.

“Me and my wife’s main concern is how many other people have had this happen to and they don’t have an idea because if my neighbor hadn’t saw this, we wouldn’t have known,” Harold Davenport said.

“Probably 20, 30 times a year we get reports about it, and it probably happens more than that,” Lt. Carl Minden said.

Lt. Carl Minden with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office says the real danger with these crimes is identity theft.

“The printers that are out there now are really high-grade and they can actually come really close to duplicating the checks you get from your bank,” Lt. Minden said.

If it was him, Minden says, “Something of any personal information or financial information, I wouldn’t put it in my mailbox.”

[…] Lt. Minden says we should also look out for incoming mail because that could include credit card statements and a thief could easily get our credit card numbers from that. He says either way, if you’re suspicious this may be happening in your neighborhood, call authorities and let them know.”

COMMENTS: Mail theft is one of the easiest and most common ways thieves obtain your personal sensitive information for identity theft. To protect yourself, use a security mailbox like the Mail Boss, and shred all sensitive documents before discarding them!

You’ve Won $500,000. Now Send Us a Check.
Petaluma Patch – 10/13/11

(PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA) “The mail stolen from the Turtle Creek subdivision last week included four checks, which will likely be bleached and reissued with higher dollar amounts, according to the Petaluma Police Department.

The thefts occurred off Sonoma Mountain Parkway August 6 when two men were seen reaching into mailboxes. The affected residents have been notified, according to Lt. Tim Lyons, a spokesman for the department. Still incidents of mail theft and fraud are happening with alarming frequency in Petaluma and are keeping local police plenty occupied.

On October 5, an 18-year-old man was arrested in Petaluma after he tried to cash a stolen check at the Bank of America on North McDowell. The check had been stolen from San Jose, bleached and then reissued in the suspect’s name for $955. Yik Lei Chan, of Palo Alto, was arrested and charged with burglary, forgery and receiving stolen property.

“Criminals call it ‘Red Flag Day,’” said Lyons. “So when you put up that red flag to alert your mail carrier that you have outgoing mail, you’re also alerting thieves.”

Instead, police recommend that all mail, especially that includes bank information, be taken to the post office. […]”

COMMENTS: Theft of incoming mail is just as, if not more, common than theft of outgoing mail. The difference is most people don’t even realize when their incoming mail has been stolen – do you really know what will come in your mailbox from day to day? With outgoing mail theft, you will eventually find out your check has been stolen when it is fraudulently cashed or when your payment is not cleared as expected. To protect yourself, don’t send sensitive mail from an unlocked mailbox. By that same token, don’t receive mail in an unlocked mailbox. Use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to protect yourself.

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