Marin Independent Journal reports women involved in huge mail theft case
Two woman were arraigned in April 2009 in a mail theft and fraud case involving nearly 100 victims in Marin and San Francisco California. The case began with an investigation of methamphetamine distribution, and led to charges including identity theft, receiving stolen property and more when authorities discovered the two accused in possession of copious amounts of stolen mail.
KEY POINTS IN THE STORY:
- Criminals stole mail to commit identity theft: at least 20 mail theft victims had their mail used for the purposes of identity theft.
- Range of charges include identity theft, receiving stolen property, fraudulent use of an access card, possession of methamphetamine and possession of a smoking device.
- Mail thieves are drug users who steal identities to support their habits
- It is easy for criminals to steal from a mailbox and create an identity
- Victims had no idea how their information had been compromised
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ON THE ABOVE
The Methamphetamine – Mail Theft connection…
- The meth connection to identity theft
- US Dept of Justice Intelligence Bulletin: Methamphetamine-Related Identity Theft
- Meth use linked to jump in ID, mail thefts
From Our Blog:
- Meth Addicts Stealing Mail in SLC
- Mail ID Thief Sentenced, Lessons to be Learned
- Scary Mail Theft Facts
Unlocked Mailbox = Recipe for Disaster…
Locking Mailbox = ID Theft Prevention…
- Reasons for a Locking Mailbox
- Identity Theft Prevention
- Security Mailboxes Offer ID Theft Protection
TAKE HOME MESSAGE:
- Identity theft is on the rise.
- Mail theft is a very common way thieves (often drug users) gain your sensitive information.
- A security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss provides mail identity theft prevention and peace of mind.
MAIL BOSS DEALERS IN MARIN / SAN FRANCISCO AREA:
- Find a dealer near you with the Store Locator
- Goodman Building Supply – Mill Valley, CA
- Cole Hardware – San Francisco, CA
- Progress Hardware – San Francisco, CA
ORIGINAL STORY REPRINTED BELOW
Apr 03, 2009 (The Marin Independent Journal) – A Novato woman and a San Rafael woman were arraigned Friday in a mail-theft and fraud case that could involve nearly 100 victims in Marin and San Francisco, authorities said.
Hollis Emily Puccinelli, 27, of Novato and Tahirah Sephia Preston, 32, of San Rafael were charged with identity-theft, receiving stolen property, fraudulent use of an access card, possession of methamphetamine and possession of a smoking device, said Deputy District Attorney Karen Lamb.
Puccinelli and Preston were being held at the county jail in lieu of $100,000 bail each.
The case began when investigators with the sheriff’s probation enforcement unit developed information about suspected methamphetamine sales at various locations throughout the county.
This led investigators to obtain a search warrant for a residence in northern San Rafael, where detectives found suspected methamphetamine and a stash of mail and property that appeared to be stolen, said sheriff’s Sgt. Fred Marziano. Puccinelli and Preston were arrested as a result of the search.
San Rafael police took up the investigation into the suspected thefts, and discovered that almost 100 victims might have had their mail stolen in Marin and San Francisco, said San Rafael police Cpl. Todd Berringer.
At least 20 of the victims had their mail used for the purposes of identity-theft and the fraudulent purchase of merchandise, Berringer said. One of the identity-theft victims is a resident of Chicago.
“She had no idea how her information would’ve been compromised,” Berringer said.
Authorities are still investigating the total number of victims and the dollar losses. Postal inspectors and the Twin Cities Police Department are assisting San Rafael police in the investigation.
Preston’s public defender could not be reached for comment Friday. Puccinelli’s defense attorney, Sarah Belletto of Richmond, declined to comment.
Puccinelli’s case could lead to additional time because of a drug investigation from last year, according to the district attorney’s office. Puccinelli pleaded guilty to drug possession in October, but the sentencing was deferred until 2010 with the understanding that the plea would be set aside if she maintained a clean record.
Contact Gary Klien via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more crime news, visit the Marin IJ’s crime blog, “The Underbelly,” at http://blogs.marinij.com/underbelly