How to avoid mail theft and fraud as tax season approaches

12 arrested, charged with organized criminal activity

By Stephanie Serna - Reporter

SELMA, Texas - Mail theft and then fraud, U.S. Postal Inspection Service Postal Inspector Michael Martinez-Partida said the crimes are common, especially as tax season draws near.

As KSAT first reported on Tuesday, the Tri-County Fraud Task Force and the United States Postal Inspection Service arrested 12 people, charging them with organized criminal activity.

READ MORE: 12 arrested, charged with organized criminal activity

Selma Police Sgt. Robert Wagner, with the Tri-County Fraud Task Force, said the 12 defendants are accused of stealing checks and other identifying information and are responsible for more than $500,000 worth of fraud around Comal, Bexar and Guadalupe counties.  

Those arrested in the sweep have been dubbed the "Dirty Dozen."

Wagner said the first arrests happened on Aug. 4, when two of the suspects were caught stealing mail.

"From that arrest in Cibolo, we were able to take the information to do a follow-up investigation and link it back to April of 2018 to current day to multiple mailboxes," said Wagner.

The 12 were working in smaller groups, but Wagner said it was the stolen property and evidence that linked them together.

"These are how a lot of these frauds start," Wagner said. "They'll break into a mailbox. They'll take the information, transport it back and forth from a car, sort the information and they'll make checks with regular check paper."

Wagner said the operation is an ongoing investigation and more arrests could be made.

Martinez-Partida said these types of crimes are common, especially during tax season, so people should try to secure their mail.

"Try to make sure you pick up your mail right on time or shortly after the letter carrier delivers it," Martinez-Partida said. "Of course, if you're getting packages from Amazon or any vendors, we recommend if you're not at home, have somebody collect your mail for you or you can have your package delivered to work."

If you want to report any mail theft, you are asked to call 1-877-876-2455.

Copyright 2019 by KSAT - All rights reserved.