Richmond man charged with using US Postal Service to steal tens of thousands of dollars in Virginia

Posted at 6:24 PM, Feb 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 13:35:09-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A federal investigation has shed new light on the myriad of post office issues impacting Central Virginia.

Based on court documents filed earlier this month, Olden Ellerbe III of Richmond is facing federal charges for stealing mail containing important banking or personal information. He then used that information to pull out thousands of dollars from ATMs across Richmond, the documents indicated.

Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin drew attention to Ellerbe's slew of pending state charges back in November. Those charges included nine counts of credit card theft and one count of receiving stolen goods of $1,000 or more.

It's a small part in the story of slow or stolen mail McEachin that said has left many in Central Virginia with unanswered questions from USPS.

According to an affidavit filed in support of a criminal complaint and an arrest warrant for Ellerbe, the United States Postal Investigation Services has been investigating multiple break-ins into blue collection boxes at the Richmond Main Postal Office at the Brook Road location.

The affidavit also suggested postal "Arrow keys" were sold on the black market for thousands of dollars.

Court papers alleged Ellerbe had a multi-pronged approach to mail theft.

They suggested he stole credit and debit cards, signed checks, and personal information like Social Security numbers to pull money from Virginia Credit Union ATMs around Richmond, including branches in Scott's Addition, Carytown, and Church Hill.

Ellerbe was said to have stolen at least $85,000 from one victim on Nov. 15, 2023.

Olden Ellerbe III
Olden Ellerbe III

The documents said Ellerbe and a co-conspirator were confronted by law enforcement after a Virginia Credit Union manager called 911.

Ellerbe was arrested and said to be in possession of 83 stolen checks totaling nearly $60,000, nine stolen credit or debit cards, and six stolen United States Savings Bonds.

The documents said that day, Ellerbe was found to unlawfully possess a check that had been "stolen, taken embezzled or abstracted from a mail receptacle," belonging to another victim.

A search of Ellerbe's renting vehicle uncovered another debit card and a counterfeit Washington D.C. Driver's License bearing the name and personal identification of a person who was not Ellerbe but had his image on it, the court documents continued.

The filings said on Sept. 6, Ellerbe deposited a fraudulent check for more than $7,000 from a second victim. They also say on Oct. 5, he stole $20,000 from a third victim.

The filings said Ellerbe and co-conspirators may have participated in something called "card cracking."

According to the documents, the first step of this practice is to obtain a bank account from a complicit third party, then obtain personal and bank account information from someone through direct mail theft, then create a counterfeit check made payable to the complicit third party, then, using the complicit third party's information and check to withdraw money.

The filings suggested that conspirators who may have been employed by financial institutions would help with the process.

"We cannot comment on this but can inform you that any members impacted have been made whole," a statement from Virginia Credit Union read.

A message left with Ellerbe's lawyer for comment has not yet been returned.

According to online court records, it appeared Ellerbe may be planning to plead guilty to federal charges on Friday, Feb. 16.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service confirmed Tuesday that two incidents of mail theft from two different USPS delivery vehicles happened on Jan. 30.

The first incident occurred in the 4000 block of Park Avenue in Richmond and the second occurred in the 1000 block of Seddon Road in Richmond.

Both of these incidents are being investigated by the USPIS.

Theft of U.S. mail is punishable by up to five years in federal prison for each count charged.

Damage or tampering with a USPS government vehicle carries up to an additional year in federal prison for each count charged as well.

If anyone believes their mail was stolen or has information about these crimes, they can report it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by calling 877-876-2455 or by going to

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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