Feds detail 500-victim Anchorage mail fraud scheme
Three people are charged in a scheme involving fraudulent checks and possession of stolen mail from hundreds of Alaskans.
According to charging documents filed in District Court, Amber Hecker, Ronald Hecker and Richard Hoglin each were involved in a check-cashing scheme using fraudulent checks and stolen identities.
Law enforcement authorities held a press conference on the case Friday, releasing additional details on how the crimes were committed.
The charging documents allege that Amber and Ronald, on numerous occasions over the last year, deposited stolen and forged checks into various bank accounts, then shortly thereafter withdrew money from the same accounts. The suspects knew the accounts already contained enough money to cover the withdrawals, which were replaced by other victims' money when the forged checks cleared.
Hoglin is accused in at least two incidents following the same MO.
According to a Nixle alert from February 1, Ronald was wanted on outstanding warrants related to a burglary. He faced several theft and forgery charges, along with a burglary charge.
Amber and Ronald had stolen mail from more than 500 people, including financial records, social security cards, ID cards and credit cards, the documents state. Overall, there were 11 counts of bank fraud, 11 counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count each possession of stolen mail and conspiracy filed in the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward, who is prosecuting the case, said Friday that Alaska USA notified Anchorage police after customers began reporting suspicious deposits and withdrawals.
Investigators got a break in the case in February, Steward said, when surveillance video recorded the Heckers loading stolen luggage into their van at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. After obtaining a search warrant for the van, officers discovered a large stash of stolen mail containing personal information – which had been sorted into folders including bank accounts and Social Security numbers.
The mail-fraud case is the second high-profile fraud incident to emerge in two weeks involving Alaska USA. Former credit-union employee Susana Lepou was charged last week with stealing missing Palmer man Keith Aumavae’s life savings in December, the month after he was found dead.
Alaska USA officials declined to comment on the mail-fraud case Friday, noting that it is an ongoing investigation.
Steward urged people to avoid falling victim to similar schemes by obtaining locking mailboxes, avoiding paying bills by mail with checks and asking their credit-card issuers not to send them convenience checks.
Lauren Maxwell contributed information to this story.
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