Ex-USPS mail carrier arrested in string of Yonkers mail thefts

YONKERS, Westchester County (WABC) -- A former United States Postal Service employee is now under arrest in connection with a mail theft spree in Westchester County.

Lorell Lagrand, 30, is facing charges of grand larceny and identity theft.

Police say she was a letter carrier in Yonkers for one year but recently resigned.

Over the past three months, mail has been stolen from mailboxes in Yonkers and throughout the region. So far, at least 95 people have reported being victimized.

Investigators learned that checks stolen from the mail were being deposited into bank accounts opened with fraudulent documents, and subsequently, withdrawals were being made from the accounts.

They say "washed" and illegally deposited checks have totaled $650,000.

Another man who lives at Lagrand's address, identified as 22-year-old Shaquille Wiltshire, was also charged in the case. He is alleged to have possessed washed checks in an effort to commit identity theft and fraud.

Police expect to make additional arrests.

Postal authorities say they are working to better secured mailboxes in Yonkers.

To prevent identity theft police suggest:

--Do not mail any negotiable items (check, gift card, cash, etc.). Utilize online banking to send checks. If you must send checks in the mail use a gel pen to write out the check and sign it. Ball point pen ink can easily be washed off a check. Bring the checks to the Post Office counter and record the name of the postal employee to whom you are handing them to.

--Pay as many bills on line as you can. On line payments are more secure than payments made via the mail.

--Use plain white envelopes if you must mail a check. Do not use return envelopes with the utility logo or municipality for tax payments on them. These are easy targets for the thieves.

--Check bank activity on line and review bank statements as soon as they are received for discrepancies.

--Report suspicious activity near mailboxes by calling 911.

--If you have been the victim of mail theft contact the United States Postal Inspectors Service at 877-876-2455 option #4.

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