EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 15, 2013

Russian man charged with mail, ID fraud

By Brian Messenger

---- — HAMPTON, N.H. — A 21-year-old Russian national arrested for attempted mail theft has been implicated in a larger mail and identity theft scheme after investigators found hundreds of debit and credit cards inside his Boston apartment, police said.

Aleksei V. Shushliannikov was arrested by Hampton police Feb. 10 after a homeowner spotted Shushliannikov going through his mailbox. Three days later, investigators searching Shushliannikov’s apartment discovered hundreds of prepaid debit and credit cards, cash and other stolen mail. Police said the estimated value of the cards and cash was over $100,000.

Shushliannikov arrived in the United States from Russia on a student visa in May 2012. He has been held at Rockingham County Jail in Brentwood since his arraignment Feb. 11 on attempted felony theft.

On Wednesday, District Court Judge Mark Weaver found there was probable cause for the charge. Shushliannikov remains in jail and is not eligible for release due to an immigration detainer, police said.

Federal indictments are anticipated and the case is expected to be transferred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts, according to a press release issued yesterday by the Hampton Police Department.

The case remains under investigation by the U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Secret Service along with local police and other local agencies in Massachusetts.

Investigators believe Shushliannikov arranged for financial documents to be mailed to addresses of vacant summer homes and homes for sale in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, where he would retrieve them.

In January, agents with the U.S. Postal Service began investigating similar cases of mail and identity theft at Cape Cod homes. Investigators had obtained photos of a suspect that later matched Shushliannikov after his arrest in Hampton.

Shushliannikov was arrested without incident Feb. 10 on Playhouse Circle in Hampton, after a homeowner spotted Shushliannikov going into his mailbox.

Police learned the mail was addressed to the home but not addressed to the homeowner. They later learned the mail contained 17 debit and credit cards in other people’s names.

Shushliannikov told police he was lost and was looking for an address on the mail, but officers became suspicious when they saw what was inside the mailbox and observed a GPS inside Shushliannikov’s vehicle, police said.

Anyone with information on the case or similar cases is asked to contact the Hampton Police Department or U.S. Postal Inspection Service.