Sometimes criminal plans are so stupid, that they just work because someone is bold enough to try it.
Like that guy who casually stole $1.6 million in gold from the back of an armored truck in NYC and managed to get it back home, cut it up, launder it, and make it to his home country of Ecuador.
Sure, he was ultimately caught, but now the dude has a book deal and is doing interviews about his escape, so it's a win-win for the opportunistic criminal. And all it took for him was to hoist a bucket out of the back of an armored truck when no one was looking. Seems like an obvious tactic most people wouldn't attempt, on account of the guards being armed and all - the whole thing just seems too simple to work, but it did.
It's that same criminal simplicity that temporarily worked for this Chicago man who was seemingly able to, on paper, make his home address Atlanta's UPS Headquarters. Which not only netted him a lot of mail, but some cash to boot.
Dushaun Henderson-Spruce allegedly didn't need to do much to convince everyone that the Atlanta, Georgia UPS headquarters business address was his home - all he needed to do was grab a USPS change of address form and fill it out.
This is quite the mail fraud scheme:— Nathan Patin (@NathanPatin) May 10, 2018
-guy changes his address to the corporate address of UPS
-he signs form w/ his initials, scratches that out and just signs "UPS"
-so much mail arrives USPS has to put a tub outside his door
-this lasts nearly 3 monthshttps://t.co/RBHvCesP8S
The Chicago Tribune reported that Spruce even messed up while filling out the form: "Henderson-Spruce did not identify himself on the one-page form. At first, the initials 'HS' were written on the signature line, but the initials were then scratched out and replaced with 'UPS,' according to the charges,"
After the shoddily change of address form was submitted, it didn't take long for all of UPS' corporate mail to be forwarded to Hendeson-Spruce's apartment in the North Side of Chicago. He was receiving tons and tons of mail every single day.
Sometimes it was handed directly to him, other days it was placed in a ginormous UPS tub right outside of his door because all of the correspondence wouldn't fit in his mailbox. And it wasn't just bills and coupons Henderson-Spruce was receiving: it was paychecks and credit cards.
Roughly 10 checks made out to UPS worth a collective $58,000 were deposited into Henderson's bank account, and the affidavit doesn't indicate whether or not he used the corporate American Express credit cards that were sent to his home.
Henderson had accumulated some 3,000+ pieces of mail intended for the UPS corporate office in Atlanta, which also included personal employee data, before UPS' security team started to get suspicious. Postal Inspectors eventually paid Henderson a visit at his apartment, where they managed to have a little chat.
"The post office duly updated the address, and Henderson-Spruce allegedly began receiving the company's mail — including checks. It went on for months. Prosecutors say he deposited some $58,000 in checks improperly forwarded to his address." https://t.co/crMbZLvU7h— Ohingo O Luta (@ooluta) May 10, 2018
Spruce told them that he worked at a company-facility part-time back in 2012. When The Tribune interviewed Henderson-Spruce, he intimated that all of the mail was forwarded to his house as a result of some kind of mix-up, but he didn't explain the situation any further.
He was charged with misdemeanor bank fraud and the possession of a stolen check. But now he is facing a federal offenses for mail theft and fraud, which carry maximum sentences of 5 and 20 years respectively.
Henderson's story is prompting a lot of people to ask a very obvious question: how the heck was it so easy for someone to do this, and what's stopping others from doing exactly the same thing?
Understandably, people are freaking out that their own mail can be forwarded to pretty much anywhere someone wants. I mean just look at how easy it was for a major corporation's mail to be forwarded to an individual apartment in an entirely different state.
But it prompted a discussion on change of address procedures and what would be done to ultimately prevent such glaring cases of fraud for going on as long as Henderson's did.
They should thank him for hilariously pointing out a pretty big design flaw in the Change of Address process.— Susan Inglis (@susani) May 10, 2018
As far as the USPS is concerned, however, it's not a big enough problem for them to worry about because percentage-wise, change of address fraud isn't that common. To put it in perspective, 37 million change of address requests were processed last year and 99.9 percent of them were deemed to be totally kosher.
"The rate of suspicious transactions reported by customers is less than 1/10 of 1 percent and many of the complaints are determined not to be related to fraud. A number of these complaints can be traced to domestic or other disputes between families and friends, who have access as a result of their relationship to information which allows one to forward mail. Still others can be attributed to service-related issues.
"We are continuously implementing security enhancements to enhance the security of our change of address process. We continue to assess these options, as we determine the best alternatives to protect the needs of our customers." - USPS in a statement to NPR.
The simplicity of Henderson's plan, despite what USPS says, has got some people admiring his bold criminal approach.
I can't tell if this is a good plan poorly executed or terrible plan carried out beautifully.— Nate (@Friendjutant) May 10, 2018
And it's got some thinking that, hey, if it's that easy, they should commit some change of address fraud of their own for a little while.
Maybe don't get it re-routed to your home address and deposit the checks in an overseas account if you're going to try and follow in Henderson's footsteps. Not that you should, obviously, but still.