Washington: Two Indian-Americans, owners of a bulk-mailing company in suburban Chicago, were on June 26 charged with swindling the US Postal Service of at least USD 16 million.
Owner and operator of Prodigy Mailing Services, Yogesh Patel and Arvind Lakkamsani, defrauded USPS by forging documents and secretly using an official date stamp to fraudulently authenticate payment of postage for than 80 million pieces of mail, according to criminal charges filed by the US Attorney's Office in Chicago.
According to the charges, Patel and Lakkamsani schemed with a third defendant, David Gargano, to fraudulently cause the USPS to deliver numerous bulk mailings without payment.
The trio forged a USPS clerk's signature on the verification forms and secretly used an official postal service date stamp to make it falsely appear that the clerk had authenticated postage, the charges allege.
From 2010 to 2015, the defendants caused a loss to the postal service of at least USD 16 million, according to the charges.
Each of the three defendants - Patel, 58, of Orlando, Florida, Lakkamsani, 57, of Northbrook, Illinois and Gargano, 51, of Barrington, Illinois - have been charged with one count of mail fraud. Arraignments in the US District Court in Chicago have not yet been scheduled, a media release said.
According to the charges, Gargano-owned and Illinois-based Direct Mail Resources Inc, which collected a fee to match customers seeking to make bulk mailings with companies who could perform those services, such as Prodigy. Gargano referred two energy companies to Prodigy for bulk mailing services.
The two energy companies provided millions of dollars to the defendants to pay the postage for the companies' bulk mailings. Instead of using those funds to pay the postage, the defendants split the money among themselves and used it for their own benefit, the charges allege.
Federal prosecutors alleged that the defendants made the mailings but kept the postage money from the energy companies without paying postage to the postal service.
Patel and Lakkamsani fraudulently maintained a key to a postal service mail unit, which was located inside Prodigy's facility, and used the key to secretly access an official date-stamp without the USPS' knowledge or approval, the release said.
By forging the postal clerk's signature and fraudulently stamping the mailings, the two Indian-Americans made it falsely appear that the verification forms - which identified the amount of postage paid for the bulk mailings - were authentic and that postage had been appropriately paid, federal prosecutors alleged.