USPS DOJ Postage Fraud California

California Woman Arrested for Sending 9 Million Packages Using Fraudulent USPS Postage

As the United States Postal Service (USPS) keeps raising prices on package shipments, sellers have been trying to figure out ways to save money. But one woman in California took it to a new level.

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In Walnut, California, authorities have apprehended a 50-year-old woman who was arrested and is awaiting arraignment on federal charges for orchestrating a counterfeit USPS postage scheme estimated at exceeding $60 million within a period of six months.

Following an investigation conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and IRS Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed in a statement that Lijuan Chen, also known as Angela, was apprehended on Tuesday afternoon on two counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, and possession and use of counterfeit postage.

“The evidence obtained in the investigation shows that Chen is operating a business which provides shipping and postage services to businesses, including ecommerce vendors operating out of China, that seek discounted USPS rates for mailing their products within the United States,” according to the affidavit in support of the complaint filed by the DOJ

“Multiple examinations conducted by USPS and USPIS staff have revealed that the vast majority of the postage used by Chen and her business to ship goods within the United States is counterfeit.”

Operating out of the City of Industry, Chen’s business allegedly received packages from various vendors and others and then affixed shipping labels on these parcels, giving the impression that the postage had been duly paid. Subsequently, arrangements were made for the parcels to be sent to USPS facilities for nationwide shipment.

However, a thorough investigation uncovered the fraudulent nature of these shipping labels.

According to the complaint, the labels included several notable indicators of deception, such as the presence of ‘intelligent barcode data’ sourced from previously mailed items.

Investigators also discovered that the meter numbers on numerous shipping labels, all claiming to be purchased and printed in 2023, were associated with postage meters that had been discontinued in 2020.

Furthermore, certain postage labels used by Chen’s business exhibited inconsistencies between the information encoded in the tracking barcode and other details on the label.

Massive USPS Postage Fraud Scheme

The scheme was so large that according to the complaint, a USPS analyst estimated that during the period from November 1, 2022, to April 30, 2023, Chen and her employees dispatched more than 9 million parcels with counterfeit postage, incurring substantial revenue losses exceeding $60 million to the U.S. Postal Service.

Chen’s shipping business was formerly managed by her husband. But two days after being interviewed by Postal inspectors in November 2019, he departed for China, leaving the business under Chen’s control.

From the DOJ press release, it’s unclear if investigators believe he was involved in a similar postage fraud scheme. If Lijuan Chen is convicted, the two charges in the complaint each carry a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

She might have found a way to save on shipping costs, but now she is likely to end up in jail!

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