Chicago man jailed after allegedly trying to scam Paxton post office

PAXTON — A Chicago man who police believe used fraudulent checks to buy hundreds of dollars worth of stamps at post offices throughout Central Illinois was apprehended after trying the same scheme at Paxton’s post office last week.

Rakeim J. Williams, 24, was arrested on Tuesday, March 28, after the Paxton post office alerted local police to his presence there. Postal officials in Paxton had been notified earlier that day that Williams was a suspect in an identical scam at a post office in Champaign — and that he may be coming to the Paxton area.

Paxton Police Capt. Coy Cornett said Williams entered the Paxton post office, located at 209 S. Market St., around 3:30 p.m. and asked to buy 15 rolls of stamps. After Williams was told the stamps would cost $735, he provided a check for that amount and his identification, Cornett said.

“Once (the postal employees) saw his ID, they realized that this was the same subject who just did this at the Champaign post office,” Cornett said. “So at that time, they advised him that they could not take his check. He then grabbed the check and his ID and left the facility.”

The post office had already called Paxton police prior to Williams leaving the facility, Cornett said. When police arrived and found Williams outside the post office, Williams immediately fled on foot, Cornett said.

Williams was apprehended in the 200 block of West Pells Street, following a vehicle and subsequent foot pursuit, Cornett said.

Williams was arrested for attempted burglary and resisting a peace officer and remained Monday at the Ford County Jail on a $50,000 bond, meaning he must pay $5,000 to be released. Formal charges had not yet been filed against Williams as of Monday afternoon in Ford County Circuit Court.

Cornett said that like he did in Paxton and Champaign last week, Williams has used checks from closed bank accounts to buy large quantities of stamps at “multiple” post offices throughout Central Illinois. Cornett said the U.S. postal inspector was “actively” investigating the alleged crimes.

“It’s the same exact scheme,” Cornett said. “He writes these checks on a closed account and he goes in there (to the post offices) and is always buying large amounts of stamps. We assume the stamps are being sold on the black market.”

Williams allegedly was targeting post offices in cities located along interstates, including Interstate 57 and Interstate 55, Cornett said.

“The one in Champaign that we definitely know about, I think it was $490 worth of stamps (he bought fraudulently),” Cornett said. “He got 10 rolls of stamps down there.”

Police said that at least in the Paxton crime, Williams was not acting alone. Cornett said Williams came to Paxton in a vehicle that was also occupied by others, but the vehicle left before police arrived.

“We know who they are,” Cornett said of the other people in the vehicle, adding that further arrests may be coming.

Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County

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