Tomball Couple Charged in Connection With Use of Counterfeit PC Postage
|Dec. 20, 2012|
Alleged Fraud Results in More Than $39,000 in Counterfeit Postage and Lost Revenue to USPS
HOUSTON – Michael and Susan Spiegel, a husband and wife residing in Tomball, have been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, five counts of mail fraud and 10 counts of possession of counterfeit postage in connection with their Houston “mail drop” business, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Robert Wemyss, Inspector in Charge of the United States Posta Inspection Service (USPIS).
The indictment was returned Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, and they are expected to make their initial appearance at 12:00 today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy. Michael Spiegel, 75, is the co-owner of Postal Connections along with his wife, Susan Spiegel, 69. Postal Connections is a commercial mail receiving agency (CMRA) in Houston. A CMRA is a “mail drop” or private business that acts as an agent for receiving and delivering mail on behalf of its customers.
The indictment alleges that Postal Connections purchased on-line postage through Stamps.com for use on their mailings. Online postage, also referred to as Net postage or PC postage, generates a stamp containing a unique meter number assigned to the registered user. The stamp also contains a barcode which, when scanned by postal equipment, captures data unique to each stamp. Investigation into the activities of Postal Connections was triggered based upon the discovery of barcode data that had allegedly been duplicated - a strong indicator of the use of possible counterfeit postage. Further investigation allegedly indicated the duplicated stamps were associated to the meter number assigned to the Spiegel’s.
The alleged conspiracy resulted in a loss to the USPS of approximately $39,256.92 over an approximate two-year period.
“The health and success of the United States Postal Service depends upon strong and aggressive revenue protection,” said Wemyss. “The United States Postal Inspection Service will continue to identify and pursue dishonest mailers who deliberately avoid proper payment of postage.”
Both Michael and Susan Spiegel are accused of involvement in a conspiracy to illegally duplicate PC postage, causing mail bearing the counterfeit postage to be delivered by the United States Postal Service, charging their customers for the counterfeit postage and possessing counterfeit postage stamps.
If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the mail fraud conspiracy and substantive mail fraud counts. he possession of counterfeit postage counts carry a maximum penalty of five years and a $250,000 fine. The indictment also contains a notice of forfeiture provision for property traceable to the offense.
This case was investigated by the USPIS and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Tammie Y. Moore.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.