Two Indian Americans and an American, owners of a bulk-mailing company in suburban Chicago, were charged with swindling the United States Postal Service of at least USD 16 million.
David Gargano, 51, of Barrington, is accused of plotting with two others to forge postal forms to get out of paying bulk mail fees between 2010 and 2015.
Federal prosecutors said Gargano directed two clients to a bulk mail processing company owned by Arvind Lakkamsani, 57, of Northbrook, and Yogesh Patel, 58, of Orlando, Florida, who were supposed to create and process mailings for two energy companies. The energy companies paid millions of dollars to the trio to cover the cost of mailing the more than 80 million pieces of mail, but instead prosecutors said the three split and pocketed the money.
The trio forged a USPS clerk’s signature on the verification forms and secretly used an official postal service date stamp to make it falsely appear that the clerk had authenticated postage, the charges allege.
From 2010 to 2015, the defendants caused a loss to the postal service of at least USD 16 million, according to the charges.
According to the charges, Gargano-owned and Illinois-based Direct Mail Resources Inc, which collected a fee to match customers seeking to make bulk mailings with companies who could perform those services, such as Prodigy. Gargano referred two energy companies to Prodigy for bulk mailing services.
The two energy companies provided millions of dollars to the defendants to pay the postage for the companies’ bulk mailings. Instead of using those funds to pay the postage, the defendants split the money among themselves and used it for their own benefit, the charges allege.
Federal prosecutors alleged that the defendants made the mailings but kept the postage money from the energy companies without paying postage to the postal service.
Patel and Lakkamsani fraudulently maintained a key to a postal service mail unit, which was located inside Prodigy’s facility, and used the key to secretly access an official date-stamp without the USPS’ knowledge or approval, the release said.
By forging the postal clerk’s signature and fraudulently stamping the mailings, the two Indian American made it falsely appear that the verification forms which identified the amount of postage paid for the bulk mailings were authentic and that postage had been appropriately paid, federal prosecutors alleged.
Each man faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.