Coronavirus News: Man arrested in Brooklyn for allegedly stealing stimulus checks from the mail

SUNSET PARK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A man was arrested after he allegedly stole coronavirus stimulus checks from the mail in Brooklyn Tuesday.

NYPD officers found 31-year-old Feng Chen in possession of multiple credit cards, mail and checks bearing different names, including stimulus checks totaling more than $12,000.

The officers first saw Chen look inside the medical collection bin at a closed medical office in Sunset Park in the early morning hours on Tuesday and then walk to a nearby residential building and examine mail left at the door.

Chen then walked into the gated area of a second residential building and left carrying what appeared to be mail, according to the police.

Chen then saw the officers and tossed mail on the sidewalk.

The officers exited their vehicle, observed a bulge in Chen's jacket pocket and searched him.

The officers also discovered Chen had an open bench warrant for a criminal case involving identity theft.

In a bulletin obtained by ABC News, the Postal Inspection Service warned about the potential theft of stimulus checks and asked law enforcement services to "exercise increased vigilance."

"Bad actors, criminals, they look for opportunity and this is an opportunity like we've never seen before," said Donna Harris of the United State Postal Inspection Service. "What we say is, when you get your mail, don't leave it in the mailbox."

The IRS is sending out letters to confirm you received your money. If you get a letter, but never got your check, contact the IRS directly. Also ignore texts, emails or solicitations using the words "stimulus."

"If you get something that's saying the "stimulus check" -- that's not the terminology the government uses. It's called an "economic impact payment," Harris said.

Military veterans are also being targeted for scams, says Marine Corp veteran and Postal Inspector Carroll Harris.

"Veterans are two times more likely than the general population to fall for a scam," says Harris.

Many people are donating their stimulus money to good and needy charities. Just make sure you're not funding a scammer with your $1,200 economic impact checks.

Federal authorities say there has been an exposition of stimulus check scams. One online tracker says the number of fraudulent COVID sites has increased nearly 250 percent.

Just remember - don't give out personal information online or over the phone. And never click on links you're not sure of. And remember, the IRS won't contact you by email or phone.

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