Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa detectives call it the largest identity theft-fraud case they've ever worked.

They have 281 victims so far. The suspects either stole the victims' mail or broke into their home, office or car.

What the thieves did with all that information is astounding.

This isn't just a case of someone getting a simple credit card in your name, these people made driver's licenses in other people's names, set up email accounts, went on buying sprees, made birth certificates, car titles and insurance verifications to match, created deeds and raided bank accounts.

It's a mess that could take these victims months or years to fix.  Some of the mail was stolen from McAlester, Broken Arrow, Sand Springs and Sapulpa, and Tulsa.

"If you lived between 11th and 15th on Louisville, we probably have your mail," Detective Cheryl Compton, TPD Fraud, said.

Another group of mail is everything police have connected to one of 54 police reports. The last pile is stuff they can't connect to a report.

"Identity theft is on the rise and bad guys know that and this is what they do," Detective Compton said.

The post office handles 668 million pieces of mail every day and most of it gets where it's supposed to but, a lot of it doesn't.

Postal inspectors arrested 6,000 people for mail theft, just last year. These thieves were extremely organized.

"This is a file folder of the information of the people whose mail they have, personal information, names, addresses, bank accounts, titles, anything they stole, they made a three by five card for the individual," Detective Compton said.

They used that information to wreck havoc on the lives of 281 people. They whited out information and even made photo copies of checks they hoped to pass.

Other checks, they washed off the information to make it less obvious, then wrote in their own location and amount.

There are some ways to protect your mail:

  • Don't ever mail your bills from your mailbox - take them to a post office or blue box.
  • Pick up your mail as soon as you can after it's delivered or buy a locking mailbox - the mailman can put it in, but it requires a key to get it out.
  • Don't keep your car title in your car and pick up important documents like W-2's in person.
  • Shred all credit card applications and credit card blank checks.

If you suspect your mail has been stolen, go to tulsapolice.org and file a police report. They're not releasing the names of the suspects, but, say three people could face up to 30 years in a federal penitentiary if convicted in this case.