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Mail Theft in Philadelphia Leads to Congressional Hearing

  • Philadelphia has become a magnet for mail theft
  • Rampant mail theft targets check
  • Lowered enforcement resources afforded to the Post Office may be the cause

Over the past several months, we have covered the wave of mailbox thefts & mail carrier robberies that has plagued the US. In fact, according to data from the Postal Inspection Service, there have been more than 2,000 assaults or robberies against postal carriers since 2020 -- fueled by criminals and fraudsters who steal the mail to obtain paper checks with the intention of either selling them or making alterations to cash.

For the great state of Pennsylvania, these crimes have not gone unnoticed -- by police, FBI, and now Congress. As detailed by NBC10 Philadelphia:

The news report notes that a sub-committee addressed the issue at a hearing on September 7, 2022. The hearing was to “examine drops in the U.S. Postal Service’s mail delivery performance, recent increases in postal mail theft and crime, and whether the Postal Service is prepared to effectively receive and deliver mail-in ballots nationally during the upcoming election cycle.”

The piece also reports that a sub-committee addressed the issue at a hearing on September 7, 2022. The hearing was to “examine drops in the U.S. Postal Service’s mail delivery performance, recent increases in postal mail theft and crime, and whether the Postal Service is prepared to effectively receive and deliver mail-in ballots nationally during the upcoming election cycle.”

Postal Police Leader Weighs In at the Hearing

NBC 10 reported that robberies of tripled between 2018 and 2021 -- include thefts from carriers themselves. Adding insult to injury, a hearing on mail delivery problems in Philadelphia revealed that the United States Postal Service shrank the agency’s uniformed postal police force of 2,700 officers to about 350.

Frank Albergo, National President of the Postal Police Officers Association, has been using his platform to argue for better enforcement resources.

Frank Albergo

Source: LinkedIn

As other witnesses testified that mail-related crimes were rising, Albergo complained that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Gary Barksdale, chief postal inspector of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, had stripped postal police of their powers and had gutted the uniformed force.

It was a policy of “defunding the police” Albergo said, adding he could not explain why the uniformed force called the Postal Police Officers had been decimated and restricted to protecting postal property.

Banks' Role in Stopping Stolen Mail Check Fraud

In the video from NBC10 Philadelphia, Mary Ann Miller, Fraud & Cybercrime Executive Advisor at Prove, notes that once the criminals get their hands on a check, they alter the payee name and amounts fields and typically deposit through a mobile remote deposit capture platform -- avoiding any human contact.

This is an issue that was raised by participating banks at the most recent OrboGraph Check Fraud Roundtable -- a series of organized meetings to share experiences, trends, and prevalent fraud use cases, while identifying key technological barriers within on-us and deposit check fraud. Over the past several years, alterations have become the biggest challenge for banks.

However, new image forensic AI can help overcome the problem.

Derek Abbott, Senior Product Specialist at OrboGraph, notes that new techniques and image-forensic technology are the best solutions to detect alterations -- preventing fraud losses.

Check alterations have proven to be difficult for banks to identify. What makes image-forensic AI effective in detecting altered checks is the ability to accurately read the payee and amount fields, which can be transferred to transaction-based systems, and its ability to perform check stock validations and signature verification.

It truly is a game changer for banks.

Abbott LinkedIn

Source: LinkedIn

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