Mail theft suspect told police he tried filing a victim's tax return
WOODBURY, Minn. -- Two St. Paul men were charged with identity theft last week in connection with a month-long mail theft spree, with one suspect telling police he tried to file a tax return for one his victim’s to get the refund.
Run-Ger Vang, 25, and Chao Moua, 26, were charged in Ramsey County District Court with one count each of identity theft after authorities uncovered hundreds of different identities during the investigation.
The duo was allegedly responsible for stealing a W-2 form from a Woodbury residence, a tax document from a Roseville home with hand-written notes showing balances, passwords, email addresses and credit information and another piece of paper containing the names, addresses and Social Security numbers belonging to 11 different people, according to the criminal complaint.
According to the complaint, police conducted a traffic stop Feb. 7 in St. Paul’s Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood of a Toyota RAV4 vehicle that had been suspected by Woodbury police as the one responsible for recent mail thefts there.
St. Paul officers saw mail in plain view during the stop and after arresting Vang and Moua, they discovered tax documents, checkbooks, unopened packages and additional credit cards from several cities.
Over the course of several weeks, the two defendants stole from hundreds of victims, according to the complaint. Moua admitted he tried to file an online tax return for one of his victims to capture the refund.
He also admitted to fraudulently ordering shoes that were billed to a Woodbury resident and shipped to Moua’s home, the complaint states. He said he was wearing the shoes at the time of his arrest.
Vang told investigators he started stealing mail in December because he was desperate for cash and gift cards, according to the complaint. He estimated he went out 28 times to steal mail mostly in Woodbury and Roseville.
Vang said he picked the suburbs because “he had more success in those areas.”
“This case illustrates my growing concern about how common identity theft is in our community,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said. “Once identities are in their possession, criminals devise numerous schemes to commit fraud or other criminal acts.”
The complaint said Vang and Moua threw mail in a Dumpster in St. Paul, but police also located bags of stolen mail in Moua’s home.
Additional investigation by the Woodbury Police Department revealed the two men had used some of the credit cards and cashed stolen checks made out to themselves, including one totaling $1,800.
Authorities say the U.S. Postal Service has custody of the stolen pieces of mail and will be returning them to their original addresses.