Four Rhode Island residents face federal charges for allegedly stealing more than $1.6 million in U.S. Treasury checks bound for homes in their own state and Massachusetts.

Authorities say the four from Providence stole hundreds of checks, some of which were sold on the street at 20 percent of their value. Others were deposited into phony bank accounts.

U.S. Postal Service Special Agent Anthony Matarese says two of the accused worked as night shift clerks sorting mail. Matarese says they stole checks valued from a few thousand dollars to more than $11,000. A postal employee's tip led to their apprehension.

A further police investigation led to the arrest of the other co-conspirators, who were observed withdrawing funds from the bogus accounts.

All four were released on unsecured bond following arraignment in federal court.