TULSA, Okla. – Three individuals were sentenced this week in U.S. District Court for crimes associated with stealing money, gift cards and credit cards from the mail, announced U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.
“The mail is regarded as sacred. It’s personal. Unfortunately, unscrupulous thieves see the mail as a source of income. They steal credit cards, checks, and personal financial information from mailboxes and then proceed to plunder individual bank accounts and cheat merchants,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “The impact on individual victims can be devastating, costing countless hours of backtracking on fraudulent spending and fixing personal credit. Vigilance is key to thwarting these criminals. So are enforcement and accountability. When you see someone raiding a neighbor’s mailbox or notice suspicious activity in your financial accounts, immediately make a report to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 918-732-6616 as well as local law enforcement. The criminals investigated will be vigorously prosecuted by this U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
Christopher Jacob Froehlich, 33, of Salisaw, was sentenced to two years in federal prison for aggravated identity theft. Froehlich purchased items using a stolen credit card, therefore assuming the owner’s identity. Following his prison sentence, he will serve one year on supervised release. Froehlich was arrested on Nov. 30, 2018 after Broken Arrow police officers attempted to initiate a traffic stop. Instead of stopping, Froehlich accelerated and led officers on a 17-minute pursuit, running stoplights at major intersections and reaching speeds of 90 mph. The driver and two passengers also threw multiple items from the car until they crashed into a fire hydrant. Upon their arrest and subsequent investigation, officers discovered several grams of methamphetamine and a Walmart receipt totaling $1,058.29 on Froehlich’s person. The corporate credit card, previously stolen from a mailbox, was used to purchase the items at Walmart just before the traffic stop. Froehlich admitted to stealing checks and credit cards from mailboxes over a 30-day period and fraudulently utilizing the credit card.
The United States Secret Service and Broken Arrow Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard M. Cella prosecuted the case.
Cory Blake Ackley and Jennifer Kathryn Steffen were sentenced this week for possession of stolen mail as well as a revocation of supervised released in a previous mail theft case from 2016. Ackley, 29, of Tulsa, was sentenced to a total of 17 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Steffen, 35, of Tulsa, was sentenced to a total of 33 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. On Dec. 27, 2018, Tulsa Police Department officers initiated a traffic stop after observing Ackley and Steffen stealing mail from multiple residential mailboxes in South Tulsa. After searching the vehicle, officers found 391 pieces of unopened mail that originated from 51 separate addresses and included billing statements, credit card applications, gift cards, financial and bank statements, insurance and tax information, Amazon packages and other documents. Ackley and Steffen have multiple convictions related to stealing mail.
The Tulsa Police Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles M. McLoughlin prosecuted the case.
Protecting yourself from mail theft and related crimes:
- Never put outgoing mail in your residential mailbox for pick up.
- Promptly remove incoming mail from your residential mailbox.
- Rent a post office box.
- Consider purchasing a locking residential mailbox.
- Don’t send cash in the mail.
- File a change of address if you move.
- Have packages held at the post office for pick up.
- Have the recipient sign for important mailed items.
- Deposit outgoing mail in collection locations inside the post office.
Report mail fraud, mail theft, and identity theft to the U.S. Postal Inspection service at https://www.uspis.gov/report/.
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