NEWARK, N.J. — Two New Jersey men used their e-commerce company to defraud the government out of more than $6 million by altering U.S. postage stamps, a criminal complaint released Tuesday alleged.
Jack Koch and Steven Koch were charged with theft of government property and postage stamp fraud and were scheduled to make an initial court appearance in Newark on Tuesday.
The most serious charge, theft of government property, carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
A former postal worker was sentenced Tuesday for wire fraud, embezzlement and identity theft amounting to $276,000 over seven years.
Jack Koch, formerly known as Ismail Yilmaz, and Steven Koch, formerly known as Selim Memis, own an e-commerce company based in Wood-Ridge called Fresh N Clear that sells items through Amazon, according to the criminal complaint. Jack Koch resides in Elmwood Park and Steven Koch lives in Pompton Lakes.
The complaint alleges that since the beginning of this year, the company bought more than 240,000 U.S. Postal Service labels and altered them so they could ship larger items such as bottled water, laundry detergent and cases of soda, while still paying a lower, flat rate meant for smaller shipments under 70 pounds.
The company sent about 30,000 packages per month through Amazon Marketplace, according to the complaint.
A U.S. Postal Service carrier is accused of stealing a Miami-Dade County mail-in ballot, 10 gift cards and four prepaid debit cards earlier this month, federal authorities said.
Raymond Levites, an attorney representing the defendants, wrote in an email Tuesday, “this is about using the wrong mailing labels on packages at the Post Office.
“Postal inspectors are a great service, but the Post Office’s idea of being careful is to throw the boxes marked ‘fragile’ underhanded,” he added.