Southern California Woman Admits Guilt in $150 Million Counterfeit Postage Scheme

Southern California Woman Admits Guilt in $150 Million Counterfeit Postage Scheme

A woman from the San Gabriel Valley admitted on Friday that she stole more than $150 million from the US Postal Service by putting fake postage on tens of millions of packages.

A statement from the U.S. Justice Department says that 51-year-old Lijuan “Angela” Chen pleaded guilty to one count of plot to defraud the U.S. and one count of using fake postage.

The federal government has held Chen, who lives in Walnut, since she was taken in May 2023. Chuanhua “Hugh” Hu, 51, is a co-defendant and is thought to be a fugitive hiding in China. He has been charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., three counts of passing and possessing counterfeit U.S. obligations, and one count of forging and counterfeiting postage stamps.

Authorities say that between January 2020 and May of last year, the two sent more than 34 million packages with fake postage stickers.

Chen’s plea deal says that she and Hu ran a package shipping business in the City of Industry that shipped packages by U.S. Mail for logistics companies in China.

According to the police, Hu then started to make fake and duplicate NetStamps to save money on postage.

Officials say that Hu knew in November 2019 that federal authorities were looking into him, so he ran away to China and continued to make fake mail to avoid being caught. The federal government thinks he made fake shipping labels with a computer program.

Chen stayed in the San Gabriel Valley and ran the stores where they shipped packages for their business. Then, in 2020, they started sending things through the U.S. Mail with fake stamps. The police say they would get packages from companies in China and use fake stamps to send them through the US Postal Service.

Court papers say that one of the red flags of fake postage was using “intelligent barcode data” that had already been used on other packages that had been mailed. These numbers are used to show that the labels were paid for before they were sent out.

Authorities say that Chen and Hu sent several items with fake Priority Mail postage.

Chen’s plea deal says she has to give up the money in her bank accounts, her insurance policies, and her homes in Chino, Chino Hills, Diamond Bar, South El Monte, Walnut, and West Covina. In August, she will be given her sentence, which could be up to five years in jail for each count.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement, “This defendant took part in a fraud scheme that cost our postal service a lot of money.” “My office will keep working to hold fraudsters responsible and give victims justice everywhere.”

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