Repeat Offender On Supervised Release Admits To Stealing Mail And Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud
The Defendant Was Serving His Second Term of Supervised Release After Prior Revocation When He Engaged in New Scheme
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Charlotte man appeared in federal court today and admitted to stealing mail from residential mailboxes and using the stolen information to commit wire fraud, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Soheil Akhavan Rezaie, 37, entered his guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler.
Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which oversees Charlotte, join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.
According to filed plea documents and statements made in court, beginning in 2021 through March 2022, Rezaie and others targeted neighborhoods in Charlotte and surrounding areas and stole large quantities of mail from residential mailboxes. The stolen mail included credit cards, tax forms, financial statements, personal identifying information (PII), and personal and business bank checks. As the defendant admitted in court today, Rezaie altered the amounts of the stolen checks or changed the names of the payees to his own and then deposited the altered checks into bank accounts he controlled. He then withdrew the funds before the victims and financial institutions could determine the checks were stolen. In other instances, Rezaie stole blank checks and wrote checks to himself, which he then cashed with various financial institutions. Rezaie caused more than $150,000 in loss through the fraudulent check cashing scheme. Court records also show that Rezaie used the stolen PII to create fake identification documents in the mail theft victims’ names.
Rezaie pleaded guilty to wire fraud which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set. When Rezaie engaged in this scheme he was on supervised release for a 2017 mail theft conviction. In addition to the current court proceedings, a second revocation of Rezaie’s supervised release is pending, for violating the terms of his supervised release for the 2017 conviction.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked the FBI and USPIS for their investigation of the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Caryn Finley, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is in charge of the prosecution.
Each year, the U.S. Postal Service® handles billions of letters and packages, the majority of which arrive safely at their intended destinations. According to USPIS, here are the extra steps the public can take to prevent mail theft and ensure that mail arrives safely at its destination:
- Promptly pick up mail – try not to leave letters and packages in the mailbox or at the door unattended for any length of time.
- Deposit mail close to pick up time – deposit outgoing mail into collection boxes before the last collection or inside the local postal office.
- Inquire about overdue mail – if you have not received valuable or important mail you’re expecting, contact the sender to inquire about it.
- Do not send cash – be careful about what you are sending in the mail. Avoid mailing cash and gift cards.
- Arrange for prompt pick up – if you will not be available to receive a package in person, contact the postal service to hold your package.
- Use the Hold for Pick Up option – when shipping packages, use the Hold for Pick Up option, so the recipients can pick up package at their local post office.
- Request signature confirmation – when mailing important mail, consider requesting a signature confirmation from the recipient.
- File a change of address – when moving, promptly file a change of address with the Postal Service.
To report suspected mail theft, please call USPIS at 1-877-876-2455.