Pair accused of stealing mail, ID theft in Metro area communities

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Two Redford Township men have been charged with stealing mail from more than 200 people across Metro Detroit, in some cases altering names on checks to cash them, federal officials announced Thursday.

Justin Lohman, 35, and Justin Cutshaw, 34, are accused of a fraud scheme targeting residents in more than 30 communities, including Bloomfield Hills, Farmington Hills, Livonia, Westland, Canton Township, Plymouth, Northville, Novi and Clinton Township, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan said in a statement.

Police in the region had been receiving complaints linked to the pair since 2019, according to documents filed this week in U.S. District Court,.

The men "would frequently alter the 'Payee' line and the amount of checks found within the mail, and then either cash those checks or use them to purchase construction equipment or other goods that they would later pawn," investigators said Thursday.

The men also allegedly opened credit cards in various victims’ names. Lohman is accused of manufacturing fake IDs in the alleged scheme as well as obtaining debit cards loaded with unemployment insurance benefits issued through residents in other states, investigators said Thursday.

Last year, Lohman and Cutshaw were charged in connection with a package theft from a Livonia home.

"While the U.S. Mail remains one of the most secure means of transmitting personal information, thieves and fraudsters unfortunately attempt to exploit the postal system on occasion for personal gain," said Bryan Musgrove, acting inspector in charge at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Detroit Division, in a statement.

The criminal complaint filed this week accuses Lohman and Cutshaw of aggravated identity theft, bank fraud, possessing stolen mail and aiding and abetting.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said residents need to be able to trust their personal data is secure in the mail.

"The U.S. mail is one of our most important public services and citizens need to be able to trust that sensitive financial information they send using the mail will arrive safely and securely," Schneider said. "Stealing mail from people’s homes and using the information in that mail to commit identity theft is a very serious crime, and one that we will treat seriously every time."

Both men appeared before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Stafford during a hearing Wednesday. They each were released on a $10,000 bond and are scheduled for a preliminary examination Feb. 3, court records show.

Attorneys listed as representing them did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday night.