Former postal worker accused of stealing $1.7M in checks tried fleeing to Zambia

WASHINGTON — A former postal worker accused of stealing nearly $1.7 million in checks from residents of Washington, D.C., was arrested Wednesday while attempting to board a plane to Zambia, authorities said.

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According to charging documents unsealed this week, Hachikosela Muchimba, 43, of Washington, D.C., was charged by criminal complaint with mail theft and bank fraud.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, between October 2021 and March 2023, Muchimba, who was an employee with the U.S. Postal Service at the time, allegedly stole checks and deposited them into his personal bank accounts.

Investigators alleged that Muchimba stole U.S. Treasury checks from mailboxes and altered them with his name and address so he could deposit them, WRC-TV reported.

Prosecutors said that Muchimba deposited 98 checks into seven different accounts, according to the television station. Ninety of them were U.S. Treasury checks, charging documents stated.

According to charging documents, Muchimba was seen on bank surveillance cameras withdrawing proceeds from ATMs. The total amount fraudulently deposited was $1,697,909.52,

Muchimba had worked as a mail carrier since 2020 but was placed on off-duty status in March, WUSA-TV reported.

A search warrant was executed at his residence on March 29, 2023, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Law enforcement officials recovered an ATM receipt that showed a deposit for a U.S. Treasury check that totaled $414,173,53.

In a detention memo, federal prosecutors sought an arrest warrant when they learned that Muchimba had booked an international flight using a credit card in someone else’s name, WUSA reported.

He was arrested at Dulles International Airport on Wednesday shortly before boarding a flight to Zambia, according to the television station.

According to the detention memo, Muchimba was carrying $2,000 in cash and a newly issued Zambian passport.

Muchimba is facing a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for the bank fraud charge and five years in prison for mail theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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