A pair of New Jersey men allegedly scammed the United States Postal Service out of some $6 million over the past two years by altering ePostage labels on hundreds of thousands of packages they shipped to customers through Amazon.
According to a criminal complaint unsealed Dec. 1 in New Jersey federal court, Ismail Yilmaz and Selim Memis, who went by the names Jack and Steven Koch, ran a virtual storefront, Fresh N Clear LLC, on Amazon Marketplace. Fresh N Clear sold a wide selection of household items, such as cases of bottled water and laundry detergent. The duo sent out roughly 30,000 parcels each month. But beginning in January 2018 and continuing through September 2020, postal inspectors say Fresh N Clear altered the labels on 97 percent of the packages reviewed by law enforcement, allowing them to pay a far lower “flat rate” price—$7.15 as opposed to $98.38, in one example cited by prosecutors—than they really owed.
“This enabled the Defendants to ship Fresh N Clear’s merchandise without paying the appropriate postage rate thus depriving USPS of at least $6 million in postage revenue,” says the complaint charging the two men with theft of government property and counterfeiting.
The Postal Service has faced a widening budget gap in recent years, and revenues have been hurt further by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
A cooperating witness identified in court filings as a Fresh N Clear employee helped investigators crack the case. Yilmaz and Memis were released on $50,000 bond and are due back in court Dec. 17.