A New York City man was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly stealing nine coronavirus stimulus checks worth more than $12,000 from mailboxes, federal prosecutors say.
Feng Chen, 31, was spotted by police early Tuesday morning looking inside mailboxes in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Chen was seen searching a medical-collection bin and looking at mail left at a door, according to the complaint and court statements. After leaving a different building with what appeared to be mail, Chen saw the police officers and “tossed the mail on the sidewalk,” prosecutors say.
When police apprehended the suspect, he had “more than $12,000, credit cards, opened envelopes and letters bearing the names of various individuals and mail addresses,” prosecutors wrote.
"For many families, these stimulus checks are a lifeline in these difficult times and anyone who tries to cut that lifeline will face the full weight of the law,” Eastern District Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement. “This Office will vigorously prosecute all those who seek to take advantage of the public health crisis.”
Chen, whose lawyer could not be immediately reached on Thursday, made his initial court appearance on Wednesday through a video conference, prosecutors say. He is charged with mail theft and faces up to five years in prison.