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Woman Confesses to $150 Million Postal Fraud Scheme in the U.S.

In nine months the scammer duo was able to ship close to 34 million parcels with counterfeit stamps.
Cover Image Source: Unsplash|Photo by Joel Moysuh
Cover Image Source: Unsplash|Photo by Joel Moysuh

Instances of individuals engaging in postal fraud have drawn increasing attention and concern. Individuals are formulating deceptive yet sophisticated schemes to defraud the postal system such as creating fake postage stamps. Whether it's someone using fake stamps to mail packages or companies getting together to plan big to steal, these postal frauds are messing up the whole system as well as the public. Recently, one such case has come to the limelight where Lijuan “Angela” Chen, a 51-year-old Southern Californian woman has been found guilty of committing fraud costing $150 million to the U.S. Postal Service.

Chen had set up a shipping business in downtown LA, which she operated with another person named Chuanhua “Hugh” Hu. Chuanhua is still out of police custody and is supposedly hiding in China. The modulus operandi was simple, using fake postal stamps to send parcels across the states. Their shipping company used to receive parcels from logistics companies working in China. They used to ship those parcels across the United States through U.S. mail. But to send a parcel through U.S. mail, a stamp needs to be put on the parcel, which can be bought from vendor partners officially working with the U.S. postal service. That’s where they hatched a plan and started printing counterfeit stamps. Chuahua had been printing fake stamps for a long time and in 2019 fled to China after he came under the radar. However, in China, he didn’t stop working on his illegal activities. He developed software to generate fake stamps.

Customers in China could directly place orders with Chuahua through a website to generate fake stamps. Once a customer would place an order, the web portal would generate a barcode. The customer needed to paste the barcode over the parcel and ship it to Chen’s warehouse in California. At the warehouse, Chen would use Chuahua’s software to scan the barcode and generate the counterfeit stamp.

By the time the scammers were caught, it had reached the mammoth size of $150 million. The scale of the fraud can be guesstimated from the fact that Chen’s warehouse would deliver thousands of parcels to U.S postal service distribution centers daily. Starting January 2022, to May 2023, alone the scammer duo was able to ship close to 34 million parcels with counterfeit stamps.

Martin Estrada, U.S. attorney for the case said, “This defendant participated in a fraud scheme that caused massive losses to our nation’s postal service”. He further said, “My office will continue to focus on holding fraudsters accountable and bringing justice to victims everywhere.”

Chen had pleaded guilty to the charges and agreed to give up funds in her bank accounts, insurance policies, and the real estate properties she owns to cover for the losses she has caused to the U.S. postal service. Her sentence will be announced in August, and she is expected to get five years in prison for the crime she committed.