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Bad Actors: Not Always Outsiders

  • Mail theft is a growing threat
  • Thieves are usually looking for checks to copy
  • "Inside jobs" by postal service employees raise the stakes
Yahoo News 7 RI Postal Wrokers Charged Mail Theft

A supervisor and six workers collaborated to remove mail from a United States Postal Service distribution center in Providence, sorting, separating and concealing mail they believed to contain cash, checks or gift cards, officials said.

The gang was remarkably successful -- one worker had over $1.3 million in stolen checks. While many postal thefts involve procuring clever disguises, the methodology in this caper was far from complex or clever:

Investigators say the participants slipped mail into their backpacks and met after work at a nearby location to open the envelopes and divide the loot. An investigation was launched after people began reporting undelivered mail or envelopes with missing contents starting in March 2023, investigators said.

Making an Example

Law enforcement, of course, wants to make an example of their success in this particular case to warn others against further "inside jobs" at postal facilities. This isn't the first time thefts by postal workers have been uncovered and reported upon.

“The misuse of public employment for private gain is both a serious crime and profound breach of the public trust,” U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Cunha said Wednesday in a statement. The arrests and federal charges “send a clear message that those who engage in public corruption for personal gain will be held accountable,” he said.

This is an example of when the public's trust in the USPS has been taken advantage of. We all see the stories of mail theft and mailbox robberies -- including assaults on mail carriers -- but now the trusted postal employees are the main bad actors. This type of crime circumvents the efforts of the USPIS, as it was committed at what we would consider a secure location. What's even more concerning is that, as the article notes, a supervisor was involved -- removing a major security point.

The real question: Is this an isolated instance, or does it occur at other facilities? Whatever the case may be, once these checks are stolen in the mail stream, FIs are the last line of defense for consumers -- when the stolen checks are being deposited or cashed -- it's up to the FI to identify whether they've been altered or counterfeited -- with the assistance of both transactional analytics and image forensic AI.

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