Mail theft bust reveals new ID theft devices

Published On: Aug 06 2014 09:48:35 AM EDT
Updated On: Jul 03 2014 11:00:00 PM EDT

They're lurking, waiting and preying on people who aren't watching. The next time you see someone suspicious in your neighborhood, they may not be thinking about breaking into your car or house.

They might be intending to break into your mailbox to steal your identity.

Police arrested Frances and Aret Frangulyan after getting a 911 call about a suspicious car.

"These two people were in their neighborhood going through mailboxes, taking mail," explained U.S. Postal Inspector Carla Mendez.

When police pulled the car over, they found more than 750 pieces of mail. That find led to a search warrant of the Frangulyans' home.

"We found various identifying information, other people's credit card statements, a lot of stuff that didn't belong to them," said Mendez.

Postal inspectors also discovered the latest technology identity thieves use to commit their crime.

"They can make credit cards. They can make driver's licenses. They can forge checks. There is check-making software they can use to make checks that look pretty good. They look real to the banking system," Mendez explained.

Both suspects in this case were convicted. Frances received probation and her husband, Aret, is serving two years in prison on stolen property charges, larceny and ID theft.

Postal inspectors said there are several ways you can protect yourself from identity theft.

"You keep track of all of your identifying information. If you are mailing a bill with a check in it, make sure to take it to a post office or a blue collection box," advised Mendez.

She also said you should be aware of the mail delivery schedule in your neighborhood.

"Know when the mail person comes to your house and delivers the mail and try not to let it sit overnight or if you are on vacation forget to put a hold," she added.

You might consider purchasing a residential mailbox that locks -- so only you can remove the mail. An Internet search reveals a lot of them. But not all boxes are created equal and not all boxes meet the requirements of the United States Postal Service.

Locked Mailbox requirements:

Designs having a slot for in-coming mail must be at least 1.75 inches high by 10 inches wide.

If a slot has a protective flap, it must operate inward to ensure mail can be inserted in a horizontal manner without requiring any additional effort of carriers.

A mailbox with a lock must have a slot that is large enough to accommodate the customer’s normal daily mail volume and receive U.S. Priority Envelopes without the need to be folded.

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