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Press Release

Three Highland Park Men Indicted for Allegedly Stealing Checks from Post Offices and Using Instagram to Find Accounts to Deposit Them

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – Three men from the Highland Park area of Los Angeles have been charged in a five-count indictment alleging they schemed to defraud banks by stealing mail from United States Post Office docks and elsewhere in Southern California to fraudulently obtain other people’s checks, used Instagram to find third-parties to deposit the stolen money in their bank accounts, and once led police on a high-speed chase, dumping mail out a car window while on a freeway, the Justice Department announced today.

The indictment returned on May 14 charges the following defendants with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud:

  • Antonio Hernandez, 20;
  • Ivan Murillo-Hernandez, 20; and
  • Alexis Garcia Martinez, 28.

Hernandez also is charged with one count of bank fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of robbery of a post office, and one count of mail theft. Murillo-Hernandez also is charged with one count of mail theft.

Hernandez and Murillo-Hernandez have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and are scheduled to go to trial on July 8. Martinez is in state custody on unrelated charges and is expected to be transferred over to federal custody in the coming weeks.

The total intended losses to the banks alleged in this scheme is at least $800,000, law enforcement estimates.

According to the indictment, from November 2022 to August 2023, Hernandez, Murillo-Hernandez, and others stole mail from U.S. post office docks and other locations in the mail stream – including by using threats of violence – with the aim of stealing mail containing checks belonging to various victims.

The indictment alleges mail thefts from a Highland Park apartment building as well as from post offices in Studio City, Azusa, Upland, Anaheim, El Segundo, and Beverly Hills. The defendants allegedly attempted to steal mail from a La Mirada post office but were unsuccessful.

Martinez allegedly provided vehicles to Hernandez and others to travel to post offices to commit back dock thefts and advised them on how to commit such crimes without law enforcement detecting them.

Hernandez and Murillo-Hernandez allegedly used social media to solicit bank account holders to provide their debit card and account information by promising them a cut of any fraudulently obtained funds deposited into their accounts. To avoid banks’ fraud protections, the co-conspirators requested bank accounts that had been open for a certain amount of time so they could access the stolen funds more quickly.

For example, in December 2022, Hernandez allegedly posted a story on his Instagram account advertising the sale of stolen checks and seeking third parties with Bank of America accounts older than two years in which to deposit stolen checks.

Hernandez and Murillo-Hernandez then allegedly deposited the stolen funds into the third-party bank accounts by falsely representing that they were the payees on the checks and were entitled to the money. Then, they rapidly depleted the fraudulently deposited funds from the third-party accounts by making cash withdrawals, electronic transfers, or debit card purchases, according to the indictment.

Also, Hernandez and Murillo-Hernandez sold and attempted to sell stolen checks to others who fraudulently cashed them, the indictment states.

The defendants allegedly recruited at least three people under the age of 18 in the scheme.

In April 2023, after stealing mail from an Anaheim post office, Hernandez, Murillo-Hernandez, and three minors led police of a high-speed chase on the 57 and 60 freeways and dumped mail out of a gray Toyota Camry as they fled, according to the indictment. One of the minors involved in the chase who had evaded law enforcement later posted a video on Instagram taken from inside the Camry depicting a pursuing police car as seen in the front passenger side rear view mirror for followers and potential stolen check customers to “like.”

An indictment 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.

If convicted, the defendants would face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for the bank fraud conspiracy charge. Hernandez also would face up to 30 years in federal prison for the bank fraud count, up to 10 years in federal prison for the post office robbery count, and a two-year mandatory consecutive prison sentence for the aggravated identity theft count. Hernandez and Murillo-Hernandez would face up to five years in federal prison for the mail theft count.

The United States Postal Inspection Service, with assistance of the Los Angeles Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and the Anaheim Police Department, is investigating this matter.

Assistant United States Attorney Angela C. Makabali of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section is prosecuting this case.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated May 22, 2024

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 24-121