LOS ANGELES – A former United States Postal Service mail carrier was indicted today by a federal grand jury for her role in a scheme that allegedly defrauded banks out of more than $200,000 via the theft of debit cards containing unemployment insurance benefits from her mail route and giving them to a co-schemer in exchange for cash payments and gifts.
Toya Toshell Hunter, 44, of South Los Angeles, was charged in a 20-count superseding indictment returned today along with lead defendant Michalea Latise Barksdale, a.k.a. “Miichii Bee,” 33, of Corona, whom a federal grand jury previously indicted in December 2021.
Hunter and Barksdale are charged with 12 counts of bank fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of debit card fraud exceeding $1,000. Hunter also is charged with three counts of embezzlement of mail by a postal employee. Barksdale faces one count of unlawful possession of 15 or more access devices (including debit cards and Social Security numbers) and one count of possession of stolen mail.
The defendants are expected to appear in United States District Court for their arraignments in the coming weeks.
According to the indictment, as part of scheme lasting from December 2014 to May 2020, Hunter used her position as a mail carrier with the United States Postal Service to steal Bank of America debit cards mailed by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) to jobless individuals. She then allegedly provided Barksdale the stolen debit cards in exchange for future payments and gifts.
Using the stolen EDD debit cards and the last four digits of the EDD cardholders’ Social Security numbers, Barksdale allegedly called the Visa vocal response unit to activate the EDD debit cards and create personal identification numbers (PINs). Once the cards had been activated, Barksdale used the stolen debit cards and fraudulently obtained PINs to make unauthorized cash withdrawals from ATMs in Corona, Compton and Fullerton, and purchases at stores throughout Southern California.
Aiding and abetting each other, Hunter and Barksdale made fraudulent and unauthorized cash withdrawals and purchases from at least 193 separate EDD cards and thereby stole from Bank of America at least $215,641 to which they were not entitled, according to the indictment.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted, Hunter and Barksdale would face statutory maximum sentences of 30 years in federal prison for each bank fraud count and 15 years in federal prison for the count of debit card fraud exceeding $1,000 in losses, plus a mandatory two-year prison sentence for aggravated identity theft. Hunter would face up to five years in federal prison for each count of embezzling mail by a postal employee. Barksdale would face up to five years in federal prison for possession of stolen mail.
The United States Postal Inspection Service, United States Postal Service – Office of Inspector General, and the United States Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration are investigating this matter.
Special Assistant United States Attorney Kyle W. Kahan of the General Crimes Section is prosecuting this case.