A resident of Walnut in the Inland Empire has been apprehended by the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and IRS Criminal Investigation for her alleged involvement in a counterfeit scheme that caused losses of over $60 million to the United States Postal Service (USPS).
50-year-old Lijuan “Angela” Chen will face federal charges, including 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 e-commerce vendors operating out of China, that seek discounted USPS rates for mailing their products within the United States,” according to the affidavit. “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.”
Chen’s modus operandi involved receiving parcels from vendors, affixing shipping labels with purportedly paid postage, and arranging for their transfer to USPS facilities for shipment across the nation.
Investigators identified several red flags on the fraudulent shipping labels, including the presence of “intelligent barcode data” from previous shipments and meter numbers that belonged to discontinued postage meters from 2020. Additionally, information within the tracking barcode on the labels was inconsistent with other data present. These findings cast doubt on the legitimacy of the postage used by Chen’s business.
The extent of the fraudulent activity is staggering. A USPS analyst estimates that between November 2022 and April 2023, Chen and her employees shipped over 9 million parcels containing counterfeit postage, resulting in revenue losses surpassing $60 million for the USPS.
Chen’s shipping business was previously operated by her husband, who fled to China just two days after being interviewed by Postal inspectors in November 2019.
If convicted, Chen could face a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for each charge filed against her. The investigation is a joint effort between the USPIS and IRS Criminal Investigation.
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