Three Philadelphia-area men charged in connection with scheme to wash and alter stolen checks from USPS collection boxes | USAO-EDPA
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Naod Tsegay, 22, of Collingdale, PA; Fode Bangoura, 20, of Philadelphia, PA; and Zyier Williams, 19, also of Philadelphia, PA, were arrested and charged by indictment with bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, possession of stolen United States Postal Service (USPS) keys and possession of stolen mail. The charges stem from the defendants’ alleged scheme to fraudulently alter and deposit personal and business checks that were stolen from the US mail.
The indictment alleges that between March and June 2021, Tsegay and his co-defendants recruited people to provide their bank account and debit card information, then used those recruits’ bank accounts to deposit checks that had been stolen from blue USPS collection boxes located everywhere. the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Each of the victims confirmed that they placed their checks in the mail in various blue collection boxes near their homes, but their checks never reached the intended recipients. According to the indictment, after altering the checks by changing the named payees and increasing the dollar amount of the checks – often from a nominal sum to a payment of several thousand dollars – Tsegay allegedly deposited the stolen checks on recruits’ bank accounts and later withdrew or attempted to withdraw fraudulently deposited funds. The indictment further alleges that Tsegay was ultimately found in unlawful possession of dozens of checks and money orders stolen from USPS collection boxes, as well as two arrow keys – keys belonging to USPS that are used by postal workers to access blue collection boxes throughout the district. . The total amount stolen or attempted to be stolen as a result of the defendants’ scheme exceeded $200,000.
“The United States Postal Service provides an essential service to nearly every citizen, often transmitting income, bills and expenses that are the basis of many livelihoods,” U.S. Attorney Romero said. “If you choose to tamper with or steal U.S. mail for any reason, you can be assured that the federal government will conduct an intense investigation and aggressive prosecution, as we intend to do in this case.”
“The United States Postal Inspection Service investigates many different crimes that affect the Postal Service, its customers, or use the mail in the commission of the crime,” said Damon Wood, Inspector in Charge of the Philadelphia Division. . “One of his initial assignments, however, was to investigate the theft of mail. When people use the mail to pay bills, send birthday cards, send business documents, or simply hope to receive a new pair of shoes ordered online, they need to do so without fear of those items being stolen. We have worked, and will continue to work, to identify, investigate, arrest and support the prosecution of those responsible for stealing mail and undermining our collective trust in the mail system. I would like to thank the United States Attorney’s Office and the many local police departments for working with us to bring these charges against these three individuals.
If found guilty, the defendants face mandatory jail time and a fine of at least $1 million.
The case has been investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Yeadon Borough Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jessica Rice. .
An indictment, information or criminal complaint is an accusation. An accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.