MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A former postal worker admitted to stealing nearly $150,000 in pre-paid cards from the mail at a Minneapolis processing center. In a plea agreement for mail theft, Loushanda Montgomery said she stole “at least 679 such gift cards valued at $147,614.83.”
The court documents say Montgomery stole the cards in 2014 between August and November, and that she targeted “return to sender” mail containing “prepaid rebate gift cards.”
One victim, Chuck Mueller, told Fox 9 he called customer service when he did not receive a $189 gift card for a dishwasher. “Customer care said you’ve got it because you used it. You used $168.31 at Walmart,” Mueller said.
Mueller says cameras at a Walmart in Fridley captured Montgomery using the card. She was fired on November 14, 2014.
“I feel the people have a right to know that something like this can happen, but I didn’t realize it was this big. This is huge,” Mueller said.
Montgomery’s attorney, a federal public defender, told Fox 9 that the ex-postal worker felt “tremendous remorse,” and noted she admitted to the crime before any indictment was filed. The attorney said Montgomery fell on hard times following the death of her husband, and was homeless — and that Montgomery, herself, did not spend all the cards.
The sentencing for Montgomery is not yet scheduled.
The Postal Inspector has not returned Fox 9’s calls or e-mail asking whether the thefts are tied to any larger ring, or whether any safeguards are in place to prevent such thefts in the future.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service provided these tips on safeguarding mail:
-Never send cash or coins in the mail. Use checks or money orders.
-Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery, especially if you're expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items. If you won't be home when the items are expected, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
-Have your local post office hold your mail while you're on vacation, or absent from your home for a long period of time.
-If you don't receive a check or other valuable mail you're expecting, contact the issuing agency immediately.
-If you change your address, immediately notify your post office and anyone with whom you do business via the mail.
-Always deposit your mail in a mail slot at your local post office, in a blue collection box, or hand it to your letter carrier.
-Check credit card statements, bank documents and financial reports every month for unauthorized activity.
-Be on the lookout for suspicious activity and contact the police immediately if you see a mail thief in action.