Westport residents' mail stolen in bank fraud scheme
Published 12:24 pm, Thursday, August 5, 2010
Westport residents' checks -- taken from mail stolen in Wilton by a Hong Kong resident -- were used in an elaborate bank fraud scheme, according to a federal indictment this week.
Joseph Mo Pun Lau, 52, of Hong Kong, was indicted by a Bridgeport federal court jury on four counts of bank fraud, three counts of theft of mail, and one count of illegally re-entering the United States after having been deported, according to David B. Fein, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut.
The charges stem from an alleged scheme to defraud four Connecticut banks last April, the federal prosecutor said.
Lau has been detained since his July 9 arrest by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Wilton police in Rockville Centre, N.Y.
The indictment alleges that Lau made a false key for a postal deposit box in Wilton, and stole mail deposited there by 38 people -- residents of Westport, Wilton and Norwalk. He allegedly took 48 checks from the stolen letters and counterfeited them to conform to fictitious names under which he had opened bank accounts at Wachovia Bank, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Citibank branches in Connecticut, Fein said in a statement.
Lau then cashed counterfeit checks totaling more than $90,000 at the banks where he had set up accounts.
Lau had been deported from America in 2007 after being convicted in Pennsylvania for bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, possession of Postal Service keys and theft of mail matter in 2005.
"I want to commend the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Secret Service and the Wilton Police Department for their coordinated work in quickly identifying and apprehending this defendant," said Fein.