A Corona woman accused of working with a former United States Postal Service mail carrier to defraud banks out of more than $200,000 via the theft of debit cards from the carrier’s mail route is expected to be arraigned Thursday on federal charges.
Michalea “Miichii Bee” Barksdale, 33, allegedly used the stolen debit cards to make unauthorized cash withdrawals from ATMs in Corona, Compton and Fullerton, and purchases at stores throughout Southern California, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Barksdale and former USPS carrier Toya Hunter, 44, of South Los Angeles, were charged in a 20-count updated indictment alleging Hunter used her position to steal Bank of America debit cards mailed by the California Employment Development Department to jobless individuals.
The defendants each face a dozen counts of bank fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of debit card fraud exceeding $1,000. Hunter also is charged with three counts of embezzlement of mail by a postal employee. Barksdale faces one count of unlawful possession of 15 or more access devices — including debit cards and Social Security numbers — and one count of possession of stolen mail.
Using the stolen EDD debit cards and the last four digits of the EDD cardholders’ Social Security numbers, Barksdale allegedly called the Visa vocal response unit to activate the EDD debit cards and create personal identification numbers. Once the cards had been activated, Barksdale used the stolen debit cards and fraudulently obtained PINs to make unauthorized withdrawals and purchases, federal prosecutors allege in documents filed in L.A. federal court.
According to the indictment, Hunter and Barksdale made fraudulent and unauthorized cash withdrawals and purchases from at least 193 separate EDD cards and thereby stole from Bank of America at least $215,641 to which they were not entitled during the scheme, which lasted from December 2014 to May 2020.
If convicted, the defendants would face up to 30 years in federal prison for each bank fraud count and 15 years in federal prison for the count of debit card fraud exceeding $1,000 in losses, plus a mandatory two-year prison sentence for aggravated identity theft.
Hunter would face up to five years in federal prison for each count of embezzling mail by a postal employee. Barksdale would face up to five years in federal prison for possession of stolen mail.
Hunter pleaded not guilty to all charges at her arraignment last week.