Senator Seeks Answers on TV Crime Drama About Postal Inspectors Funded by the Postal Service (Yes, This is a Real Thing)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is demanding to know how and why the United States Postal Service (USPS) sponsors a weekly TV show on CBS. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver recently spotlighted the series, which airs on Saturday mornings and tells stories based off of mail fraud and scams that USPS inspectors targeted.

“I know postal inspectors do great and important work—but I’m not sure they need to be sponsoring a scripted TV drama when the agency is having such massive financial problems and closing post offices in Missouri and across the country,” McCaskill said.

The Inspectors is sponsored by USPS’ Postal Inspection Service and went on air in 2015, running on CBS on Saturday mornings. McCaskill wrote the Postmaster General requesting answers on who within the Postal Service approved sponsoring the show, how it is funded, and what metrics have been used to review the show’s effectiveness.

Since her time as Missouri State Auditor, McCaskill has been a leading voice in Missouri and Washington for cutting wasteful government spending. She became the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this past January. In McCaskill’s position leading the Committee, she has called for answers on questionable government contracts, such as one that left taxpayers on the hook for over $50 million in questionable costs, including seven luxury vehicles and $400,000 average salaries for significant others of corporate officers to serve as “executive assistants.” She recently demanded details from the Federal Communications Commission on efforts to follow through on almost $90 million in fines proposed against providers for the Lifeline program. During her first term in the Senate, McCaskill waged a successful six-year effort to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse in wartime contracting.

Read McCaskill’s letter to the Postmaster General HERE.

Inspectors hit the streets to help carriers

From USPS News Link:

The Postal Inspection Service has a message for the nation’s letter carriers and rural carriers: We’re here to help.

Postal inspectors regularly meet with carriers to remind them to be aware of unsafe situations and to report suspicious activities, such as vehicles that follow them or parcels that go missing along their routes.

These meetings continued during the recent peak delivery season, the Postal Service’s busiest time of year. Continue reading

Feds target mass mailing fraud schemes aimed at elderly

The Justice Department, in coordination with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and other law enforcement partners, today announced wide-ranging enforcement actions – including criminal charges, economic sanctions, seizure of criminal proceeds and civil injunction lawsuits – along with the execution of search warrants to combat a global network of mass mailing fraud schemes that collectively have defrauded millions of elderly and vulnerable victims across the United States out of hundreds of millions of dollars.  Simultaneously, a consortium of government agencies and non-profit groups led by the department’s Consumer Protection Branch and Elder Justice Initiative announced a public education campaign to heighten public awareness and educate potential victims and their families about these schemes. Continue reading

Calirornia bulk mail company pays $3 Million to resolve investigation into scheme to defraud USPS

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.

inspectorThe 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.

The US Postal Service is spying on us (and they’re not doing a very good job at it)

he U.S. Postal Service is spying on us. And they’re not doing a very good job at it. I’m not talking about peeking into letters or looking at how many mutual fund statements you receive. I’m talking about the systematic collection of information on every single piece of mail you send or receive, including the names and addresses of the sender and recipient, without a warrant or oversight and without any explanation to the person being targeted. Continue reading

Video: Mysterious spy cameras collecting data at Denver post offices

DENVER — Within an hour of FOX31 Denver discovering a hidden camera, which was positioned to capture and record the license plates and facial features of customers leaving a Golden Post Office, the device was ripped from the ground and disappeared.

FOX31 Denver investigative reporter Chris Halsne confirmed the hidden camera and recorder is owned and operated by the United State Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement branch of the U.S. Postal Service.

The recording device appeared to be tripped by any vehicle leaving the property on Johnson Road, but the lens was not positioned to capture images of the front door, employee entrance, or loading dock areas of the post office.

An alert customer first noticed the data collection device, hidden inside a utilities box, around Thanksgiving 2014. It stayed in place, taking photos through the busy Christmas holidays and into mid-January.

A spokesperson for Postal Inspection Service declined to address the specific reason for the domestic surveillance, but admitted the agency had a “number of cameras at their disposal.”

Read more: Mysterious spy cameras collecting data at post offices | FOX31 Denver.