Last month we were tipped off to a stupid new scam in town: letters that were supposedly from the city's "Vermin Control" section of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, claiming recipients were in violation of an unnamed regulation regarding vermin and had to pay a fine. And a little over a month after the city issued a warning about the scam, the U.S. Attorney's office has announced a Queens resident has been arrested and charged with mail fraud for sending the notices.
The scam was engineered by two men, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's office: Myong Hwan Han (a.k.a David Han) and an unnamed co-conspirator. According to the criminal complaint, Han's co-conspirator set up a P.O. Box in a Whitestone print shop, and asked the shop to print up 10,000 copies of the envelope, return envelope and false vermin control notice used in the mailings, in April of this year. The co-conspirator also, optimistically, allegedly told someone at the print shop to expect a lot of mail at the P.O. Box.
Prosecutors say Han and the co-conspirator then sent the letters, which warned people they were in violation of the vermin regulation, and that they to pay a non-appealable fine of $120. While the address on the notice from "Vermin Control of New York" was a law office in Whitestone, the return envelope had the address of the print shop where the P.O. Box was located.
But there was a problem: the print shop hosting the P.O. Box had closed, so in September Han allegedly went to the Whitestone Post Office to collect mail sent to it, which was where he told a postal investigator he assumed he would find mail sent to the P.O. Box. Han had allegedly brought incorporation documents for what he said was a pest control company called "Vermin Control of New York," which he had given to a post office employee to try to get any mail addressed to the company.
According to the criminal complaint, Han told the postal investigator that he had set up the bank account for Vermin Control of New York, and that he and his co-conspirator had sent the fraudulent notices with plans to split the proceeds from any checks they got. The postal inspector determined that 101 people had sent checks of at least $120 to the P.O. Box, and that based on postmarks from undeliverable envelopes containing the notices, they were sent on August 30th or 31st this year.
Han has been charged with one count of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, both of which carry maximum sentences of up to 20 years in prison.