LOS ANGELES – An Inland Empire resident is expected to be arraigned this afternoon on federal charges alleging the use of counterfeit postage to ship millions of parcels as part of a fraudulent scheme that caused the United States Postal Service (USPS) to suffer losses over the past six months estimated to be more than $60 million.
Lijuan “Angela” Chen, 50, of Walnut, was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon by inspectors with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and IRS Criminal Investigation.
The criminal complaint filed May 22 charges Chen with two counts: 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 in support of the complaint. “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 business, which is based in City of Industry, received parcels from the vendors and others, applied shipping labels showing postage purportedly paid, and then arranged for the parcels to be transferred to USPS facilities to be shipped across the nation. The investigation in this case has revealed that the shipping labels were fraudulent and that they included, among other red flags, “intelligent barcode data” from previously mailed items. Investigators also determined that the meter numbers on many of the shipping labels, all of which indicated that they had been purchased and printed in 2023, related to postage meters known to have been discontinued in 2020, according to the complaint. On yet other postage labels used by Chen’s business, information contained in the tracking barcode was inconsistent with other items of information on the label.
A USPS analyst estimates that between November 1, 2022, and April 30, 2023, Chen and her employees shipped over 9 million mail parcels containing counterfeit postage, resulting in estimated revenue losses to the USPS of over $60 million, the complaint states.
Chen’s shipping business was previously operated by her husband, who left for China two days after being interviewed by Postal inspectors in November 2019, according to the complaint.
A complaint contains allegations that a defendant committed a crime. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The two charges in the complaint each carry a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.
The United States Postal Inspection Service and IRS Criminal Investigation are conducting the investigation in this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney James C. Hughes of the Major Frauds Section is prosecuting this case.