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Dressed to Steal: Fake Letter Carriers Commit Postal Theft

Frank Albergo, National President of the Postal Police Officers Association, recently reposted via LinkedIn an item found by David Maimon, Professor at Georgia State University and Head of Fraud Insights at SentiLink.

As Mr. Albergo relates:

Crime evolves and criminals adapt. Obviously mail thieves want to avoid detection and arrest. A United States Postal Service letter carrier accessing mail with a letter carrier’s Arrow key is not suspicious to a local police officer. Apparently, the new modus operandi for mail thieves.

A CBS News report from Chicago describes postal theft carried out by an individual wearing a completely authentic postal uniform. Surveillance photos provided by the USPS show him wearing what looks to be a baseball cap and sweater with the U.S. Postal Service logo on them.

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Anyone with information should call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 and say "law enforcement" when prompted. The reference case number is 4142062. USPIS Photo

While this apparel is indeed convincing to the layman, Mr. Albergo is confident that Postal Police can spot the fakers.

Do you know who could spot an impostor a mile away? A Postal Police Officer. We knew the carriers; we knew the carriers’ routes; we knew which blue collection boxes, green relay boxes and cluster boxes were prone to mail theft, and we knew how to make a difference. At least — we once did.

The Deep Web Strikes Again

How do they get completely authentic-looking uniforms? David Maimon explains:

In January 2023, after close to two years of detailing the modus operandi of mail theft and check washing in the USA, we raised an alarm regarding the sale of USPS mail carriers' uniforms on online underground markets. Featured below are some of the items available for purchase, including USPS arrow keys. While it remains uncertain whether the individual highlighted in the recently released CBS story ( utilized this service, it serves as another testament to the continually evolving landscape of the mail theft crisis and the sluggish response of relevant authorities to criminal innovations.

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Outsmarting the Fraudsters

Fraudsters are crafty and creative. Financial institutions are not privy to most of these schemes until their the stolen check is identified -- unfortunately sometimes too late.

However, other than reminding their customers to safeguard their checks, FIs are unable to do anything when it comes to stopping fraudsters from stealing checks. However, they can protect themselves and their customers' funds by deploying technologies like behavioral analytics, image forensic AI, consortium data, and dark web monitoring.

FIs are the last line of defense when it comes to check fraud, and the only way to deter these fraudsters is to block their schemes consistently. Imagine going through all the work to obtain the stolen checks only to be thwarted when trying to steal the funds.

Fraudsters are smart -- but FIs can outsmart them by anticipating their schemes and making them unsuccessful on a regular basis.

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