Four mail carriers are accused of stealing the mail they are supposed to safeguard, with investigators alleging they swiped credit cards and went on a nearly $750,000 spending spree.
An indictment accused 10 people of playing part in the alleged scheme, four of them being mail carriers with routes in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and even as far away as Virginia.
Prosecutors in Manhattan Criminal Court said that Michael Richards was the ringleader of the operation, as he allegedly recruited postal workers to steal unopened credit cards between 2017 and 2019. The four mail carriers were paid different amounts based on how well the stolen credit cards performed in the marketplace, according to prosecutors.
The alleged fraudsters stole more than 1,000 credit cards in that span, prosecutors said, using them to purchase about $750,000 in luxury goods, with labels like Hermes, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.
Prosecutors also said that the sophisticated crime ring was able to activate the credit cards with the help of one person who was hired to do research into potential victims. That person would search publicly available databases for personal information that would be a match to the cards.
Each of the defendants pleaded not guilty. Outside of the courtroom, the defendants did not respond to questions from reporters.
Police were tipped off to the alleged scheme by a credit card company that had noticed a pattern of brand new credit cards not making it to their owners along certain postal routes.