A Jamaica man was among six individuals that were charged in two separate indictments by a Queens grand jury on grand larceny, conspiracy and other charges in a coordinated mail fishing scheme in 2019, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Hana Alrabadi, 22, was accused of being a collusive bank account holder and was arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Ushir Pandit-Durant on an indictment charging him with grand larceny and conspiracy for his role in which a mail fishing-check stealing crew allegedly stole more than $100,000.
Four individuals from the Bronx and one from Manhattan were named in the indictments and arraigned in Queens Supreme Court last week.
“This scheme caused havoc and unwarranted financial hardship for the victims. As alleged, these defendants worked together to line their pockets with money laundered through the bank after they deposited checks stolen from numerous USPS mailboxes,” Katz said. “They would erase the original payout on the check and write in their own figures. My office, working in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service and the NYPD, has broken up this crew of alleged thieves.”
According to the charges, between March 1, 2019, and June 10, 2019, the defendants were all part of a criminal conspiracy specializing in mail theft and check fraud, which netted more than $100,000 in stolen funds from residents and businesses in Queens and elsewhere. Each defendant had their own role in the scheme with started with Bronx resident Luis Velazquez, 26, allegedly stealing mail from various Queens locations to find both personal and business checks.
Katz said the stolen checks were then provided to the crew’s boss, who would coordinate with other defendants to alter the checks or change the checks completely by erasing the handwritten ink using brake fluid or acetone and then putting the names of Alrabadi and two other defendants, who were willing to open banks accounts for the organization. The defendants changed the original amount of the check to a much higher figure and then these doctored checks were deposited into the accomplices’ bank accounts and from that point, cash would be withdrawn against these fraudulent checks.
“Mailbox fishing is a very serious crime, where victims are often unaware that a theft has been committed until months later,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. “Today’s charges serve as an example to those who believe they can get away with victimizing hard-working members of our communities by stealing from the U.S. Postal Service.”
According to charges, between April 16, 2019, and June 4, 2019, another group of defendants named in the indictments allegedly conducted five electronic money transfers moving the cash from deposits into two co-defendants’ accounts, in essence, laundering the stolen money.
“Postal inspectors have zero tolerance for those who victimize consumers using the U.S. mail,” U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel Brubaker said. “This is why postal inspectors, along with our law enforcement partners, are relentless in investigating these cases to ensure alleged criminals like these are brought to justice for the crime of mail theft.”
Alradadi’s return date was set for May 26. If convicted, he faces up to 2 1/2 to seven years in prison.
“We will continue to collaborate without law enforcement partners to protect the residents of Queens from these types of schemes,” Katz said.