LOS ANGELES (CNS) - An Inland Empire woman is expected to be arraigned Thursday on federal charges alleging the use of counterfeit postage to ship millions of parcels in a scheme that prosecutors say caused the U.S. Postal Service to lose over $60 million over the past six months.
Lijuan "Angela" Chen, 50, of Walnut, was taken into custody Tuesday by inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and IRS Criminal Investigation, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The federal criminal complaint filed Monday in Los Angeles charges Chen with two counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States and possession and use of counterfeit postage.
"The evidence obtained in the investigation shows that Chen is operating a business which provides shipping and postage services to businesses, including e-commerce vendors operating out of China, that seek discounted USPS rates for mailing their products within the United States," according to the affidavit in support of the complaint.
"Multiple examinations conducted by USPS and USPIS staff have revealed that the vast majority of the postage used by Chen and her business to ship goods within the United States is counterfeit."
Chen's Industry-based business received parcels from the vendors and others, applied shipping labels showing postage purportedly paid, then arranged for the parcels to be transferred to USPS facilities to be shipped across the nation, federal prosecutors allege.
A USPS analyst estimates that between Nov. 1 and April 30, Chen and her employees shipped over 9 million mail parcels containing counterfeit postage, resulting in estimated revenue losses to the USPS of over $60 million, the complaint states.
Chen's shipping business was previously operated by her husband, who left for China two days after being interviewed by postal inspectors in November 2019, according to the complaint.
The two charges in the complaint each carry a possible prison sentence of up to five years, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.