WEST CALDWELL, NJ — A West Caldwell U.S. Postal Service carrier was one of four men arrested Wednesday in a scheme to steal mail, commit credit card fraud and defraud the United States Postal Service and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The Caldwell Police Department Detective Bureau assisted in a joint investigation with the United States Postal Inspection Service, United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, Fairfield Police, Boonton Police, and Millburn Police Departments.
Four Union County residents, including 35-year-old West Caldwell mail carrier Kyle Williams, were arrested Wednesday for their roles in a conspiracy to steal mail and possess stolen mail, including credit cards, pandemic relief credit cards, fraudulent use of the stolen credit cards without authorization, and defrauding the U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Jarid Brooks, 27, Justin Brooks, 21, Kyjuan Hutchins, 21, and Williams, all of Vauxhall, have been charged by complaint with conspiracy. They appeared Wednesday afternoon by video conference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor.
From July 2019 to August 2020, Williams allegedly stole credit cards from the U.S. mail in the course of his employment as a city assistant carrier at the U.S. Post Office in West Caldwell New Jersey.
The West Caldwell Post Office covers West Caldwell, as well as other neighboring towns, including Caldwell, North Caldwell, and Fairfield. Williams provided those credit cards to Jarid Brooks, Justin Brooks, and Hutchins, and the defendants thereafter fraudulently activated those credit cards and then used those credit cards to make and attempt to make purchases without the cardholders' authorization, including buying gift cards and electronics. Williams also fraudulently attempted to use the stolen cards.
Starting around last December, law enforcement received multiple reports of complaints from the residents of Caldwell, North Caldwell, West Caldwell, Fairfield, and Boonton. These residents reported that they never received their credit cards that financial institutions had sent to them in the mail. The victims subsequently discovered that individuals unknown to them had used those credit cards without their authorization. The investigation revealed that the USPS carrier, Kyle Williams, did not have a permanent postal route assignment and instead was assigned to deliver mail to addresses in the West Caldwell Post Office area on an as-needed basis. The investigation further revealed that Williams typically was assigned to deliver mail on the postal routes from which the cards were stolen, on or about several days before the fraudulent purchases were made or attempted to be made on those credit cards. In some cases, Williams was assigned to deliver mail on the postal routes from which credit cards were stolen, on or about several days after the financial institutions mailed those credit cards.
The investigation to date has revealed that the victims have incurred over approximately $80,000 in intended and actual loss from fraudulent purchases made using their stolen credit cards. The defendants also schemed to fraudulently use over $11,000 of funds pre-loaded onto Economic Impact Payment (EIP) cards issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury and sent in the U.S. mail pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that were stolen from the mail. The Cares Act authorized EIP payments structured as on-time payments refundable tax credits to certain eligible taxpayers of $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples filing jointly and up to $500 for each qualifying child. The goal of the EIP card fraud was for the co-conspirators to covert the government funds pre-loaded onto the card, in amounts ranging from approximately $400 to approximately $2,400.
The conspiracy charge is punishable by a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine K. Lou of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Detective Matthew DeAngelo led the investigation for the Caldwell Police along with Detective Andrew Apicella.