FRESNO, Calif. — On May 25, 2023, a federal grand jury returned a 15-count indictment against Blake Wayne Reed, 27, of Tehachapi, charging him with bank fraud, use and possession of unauthorized debit and credit cards, aggravated identity theft, possession of stolen mail, and unauthorized possession of a Postal Service key, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. The indictment was unsealed following his arrest today.
According to court documents, from August 2020 to April 2021, Reed obtained hundreds of pieces of stolen mail that included at least 130 checks and 30 debit cards or credit cards belonging to other individuals and businesses. Reed then altered and forged signatures on the stolen checks and used stolen debit cards to deposit the checks into victims’ bank accounts and into his own bank account. He then made cash withdrawals from the inflated accounts. He also used victims’ stolen debit cards to make cash withdrawals from their accounts. Reed’s scheme caused more than $40,000 in fraudulent transactions to be made on the victims’ bank accounts, debit cards, and credit cards.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brittany M. Gunter and Joseph D. Barton are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Reed faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each of the bank fraud charges, a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for use and possession of unauthorized debit and credit cards and unauthorized possession of a Postal Service key, a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for the possession of stolen mail charge, and a mandatory two-year sentence consecutive to other counts and a fine of up to $250,000 for the aggravated identity theft charge. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.