Home Richmond man pleads guilty to bank fraud scheme stemming from mail theft

Richmond man pleads guilty to bank fraud scheme stemming from mail theft

Crystal Graham
United States Postal Service
(© LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS – stock.adobe.com)

A Richmond man pleaded guilty today to conspiring to carry out a bank fraud scheme that targeted victims whose personal and financial information the defendant and his co-conspirators had obtained by stealing mail from United States Postal Service mailboxes.

Olden Ellerbe III, 24, is scheduled to be sentenced on August 19. He faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison.

According to court documents, Ellerbe conspired with other individuals to steal or otherwise unlawfully obtain U.S. mail, sometimes using stolen or otherwise misappropriated USPS “arrow” keys which unlock all Postal Service blue collection boxes within a given geographic area.

Ellerbe and his co-conspirators obtained the personal and financial information of numerous victims through these mail thefts and utilized that stolen information to fraudulently withdraw funds from those victims’ accounts at local banking institutions.

Ellerbe and his co-conspirators targeted the victims’ financial accounts through a variety of means including creating fictitious checks drafted on the victims’ bank accounts; utilizing the victims’ stolen debit and/or credit cards to withdraw funds from the victims’ bank accounts; and applying for loans in the names of these victims (and then withdrawing the fraudulently obtained loan proceeds with the victims’ stolen debit cards).

At the time of his arrest on Nov. 15, Ellerbe and another conspirator had just completed the final transaction in a series of fraudulent withdrawals amounting to a total of $85,000 from a victim’s bank account.

Ellerbe possessed both a Glock handgun and numerous items stolen from the U.S. mail, including 83 stolen checks, $59,940 in U.S. currency, nine stolen credit or debit cards and six stolen U.S. savings bonds.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.

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