LOS ANGELES – The president of an Anaheim-based bulk mailing company this week paid the United States $3 million to resolve a federal investigation into allegations that the mailer systematically misclassified postage and defrauded the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) out of millions of dollars in postage fees.
The payment, which was made on Wednesday and announced today, resolves a civil investigation into Advantage Mailing, LLC, which handles bulk mailings and provides design, printing and mailing services for a broad range of customers. An investigation by Postal authorities determined that Advantage had submitted to the USPS false postage statements that misrepresented, among other things, the type and amount of postage affixed to millions of pieces of mail handled by the company. As a result, Advantage paid less to the USPS – millions of dollars less – than was actually due in postal fees.
“By misclassifying postage and submitting false statements to the Postal Service, this company avoided paying millions of dollars,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The settlement and the resulting multi-million dollar payment to the government puts others on notice that postal violations will not be tolerated and every entity that attempts to defraud the United States will be held accountable.”
Under USPS regulations, mailers must complete and submit a postage statement to the Postal Service that identifies the particulars of each mailing, such as type of postage used, the amount of pre-paid postage and number of pieces mailed. The USPS relies upon these postage statements to determine the amount of postage fees due, so mailers such as Advantage are required to truthfully and accurately complete the statements.
“A theft from the Postal Service is a theft from the American public,” said Postal Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss. “Postal Inspectors will vigorously pursue and bring to justice anyone who cheats the Postal Service out of revenue. The Postal Inspection Service appreciates the strong stance the United States Attorney’s Office has taken against those who seek to take advantage of the Postal Service by underpaying postage.”
Advantage agreed to the civil settlement without admitting any wrongdoing. Advantage’s president, Thomas C. Ling, paid the settlement on August 31.
The government’s investigation was conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General.
The settlement was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Deborah Yim of the Civil Division’s Civil Fraud Section.