More than 50 people in Upstate South Carolina have been arrested in the past year for stealing mail to commit identity theft or mail fraud, according to an Upstate task force.
The South Carolina Upstate Financial Crimes Task Force is headed by U.S. postal inspector Jack Galvin and comprises federal postal inspectors as well as Anderson and Spartanburg law enforcement officers.
The inspectors involved in the arrest have some ideas about why stolen mail is such a big problem in the area.
Identity theft and mail fraud aren’t new crimes in the region, but postal inspector Keith A. Fixel attributes the large number of cases to current economic conditions and job losses in the area along the I-85 corridor. All financial crimes are on the upswing, he said.
Methamphetamine use has been linked to mail theft throughout the Pacific Northwest, and may play a part in the large number of cases in the Upstate area as well. Investigators said there are more methamphetamine users in the Upstate, and they aren’t sure why.
“This corridor has some unique problems,” Galvin said.
Many of the 53 people arrested by the task force are drug users who support their habits by stealing mail and committing ID theft and mail fraud, he said.
To protect yourself:
- Take outgoing mail to a public postal box.
- Use a locking mailbox at home to protect incoming mail.
- Never leave your mail in the box overnight.
- If you travel frequently, rent a mailbox at the post office.