Five men—three of whom are former FedEx hub employees—have recently been indicted of defrauding the company of more than $1.7 million in an interstate shipping theft scheme. The indictment, which was released on Tuesday by Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, identifies Christopher T. Crawford, Akeem Gowdy, and Tavaris Mickens of Memphis as the suspects who were employed with FedEx during the scheme. Juan Royal and Jordan West, both of New York, have also been named in connection with the crime.
According to the indictment, the former FedEx workers reportedly created fraudulent corporate shipping meter accounts to print labels, which they used to cover the original mailing addresses on boxes containing wireless mobile devices from Verizon and/or AT&T. Each box contained thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise. The devices were then shipped to co-conspirators in New York City and other cities.
Crawford and West also sent $10,000 cash to one another via FedEx as part of the scheme.
Each defendant has been charged with one count of interstate shipping theft and one count of conspiracy. All five defendants were aware that the merchandise was stolen when they committed the crime. Crawford and West have also been charged with mail fraud, which could result in imprisonment for up to 20 years, as well as fines up to $250,000, for this offense alone. Crawford is also charged with wire fraud.
The United States Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigations and Memphis Cargo Theft Task Force are all investigating the case.
Logistics security services company FreightWatch International (FWI) reported 794 cargo thefts throughout the United States in 2014, with the average value hovering around $230,000—a 36% increase over 2013. According to FWI, these types of cargo theft statistics show that it is becoming more common for thieves to isolate and target valuable merchandise than to steal arbitrarily as a result of an unexpected opportunity. A proactive approach to cargo security can help combat this type of organized threat.