Bank accounts, credit card numbers, your most sensitive financial information - it all comes in the mail. A neighbor thought something fishy was going on with her accounts, so Simone Khalin set up a camera.
In the video, you can see a man drive up to her mailbox and remove envelopes. Khalin said, "We felt like we needed to do something. We did tape them putting their hand in our mailbox."
Khalin and her family started finding pieces of their mail in the street. They also found mail addressed to different names in their mail. They knew something was wrong.
Khalin said "We felt like these people were waiting for the mailman to drop off the mail in the mailbox and they were right away after. Gone in two seconds."
U.S. Postal Inspector Reldys Torres said, "Lucky for us we were able to get video from the victim where it showed the actual suspect reaching into not only their mailbox, but the mailbox of their neighbors across the street." Postal inspectors quickly tracked down the truck and the suspects to unravel their scheme. Torres explained, "They would take your mail, your bank statements, or your W-2 forms, or info if you were in the hospital. That information would then have your name, account number, bank, address. With a couple of phone calls they would re-order credit cards, debit cards, and your PIN number and have it mailed back to the same address."
Since the mail was being delivered to the same address as the legitimate bank or credit card holder, the bank never suspected anything was wrong. Torres said, "At ATMs they would withdraw money, obviously, at stores they would buy high end computer equipment; iPads, phones - for resale value."
Consumers often don't know their identity has been stolen until their next bank statement arrives a month later. By that time, Torres said the credit card was already used or maxed out – it the suspects are gone and on to the next victim.
In all, 50 victims lost $150,000. Postal inspectors advise: If you see someone in their mailbox that is not a mailman contact postal inspectors and the police immediately.
Postal inspectors say the three suspects in this mail fraud and identity theft ring were well known to law enforcement. All the people involved have been sentenced to time in prison.