The following is a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Missouri:
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an Osage Beach, Mo., woman was indicted by a federal grand jury today for a scheme to open fraudulent bank accounts in order to cash checks stolen from the mail.
Chrystal Lynn Bernstein, 27, of Osage Beach, was charged in a 21-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Jefferson City, Mo. Today’s indictment replaces a federal criminal complaint that was filed against Bernstein on Feb. 17, 2017.
The federal indictment charges Bernstein with eight counts of possessing stolen mail on separate occasions from Dec. 15, 2016, to March 14, 2017. Bernstein allegedly possessed checks that were stolen from the victims’ mailboxes.
Bernstein is also charged with 10 counts of bank fraud related to her scheme to use stolen identity information to open bank accounts in Boone and Camden Counties in order to cash or deposit the stolen checks. Bernstein allegedly obtained stolen mail, including checks, and altered the payee on the checks in order to cash or deposit them into the fraudulent accounts.
The federal indictment also charges Bernstein with three counts of aggravated identity theft related to her use of stolen identities to open the bank accounts.
Larson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence E. Miller. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Columbia, Mo., Police Department, Booneville, Mo., Police Department, the Camdenton, Mo., Police Department, the Lake Ozark, Mo., Police Department and the Osage Beach, Mo., Police Department.