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Bossier task force stops 500 white collar crimes - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Bossier task force stops 500 white collar crimes

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CADDO PARISH, La. -

Pawn shops around the Ark-La-Tex may want to examine with sharper eyes any silver coins or bars they purchase. Recently, Top Dollar Pawn in Bossier City lost $7,260 in a fake silver scam. It may soon be returned thanks to the Bossier Parish Financial Crime Task force. The task force, which is a partnership between Bossier City and Parish law enforcement, has only been active since December 2012 but has solved more than 500 white-collar crimes in the parish. More than 100 felony arrests have been made by investigators. John "Bo" Vice, Top Dollar's owner, says he's happy they've helped him.

"For the local people, it's important to know that our law enforcement is thinking about us," Vice said. "They're doing what they should do. They are protecting us as a community. I'm glad to know they're there."

An arrest in the silver scam has been made just outside Corpus Christi, Texas. Vice thinks the task force's quick and thorough response is to thank. The task force doesn't just focus on counterfeited money.

"As a financial crimes investigator, we conduct different types of financial crime investigations," Leander Matthews said. He's a lieutenant with the Bossier City Police Department assigned to the task force.

Matthews says the force has tackled a number of financial crimes. They've seen it all in Bossier Parish; bank and credit card fraud, embezzlement, forgery and identity theft. His partner Mitch Lollar, a lieutenant with the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office, says identity theft is the most prevalent crime the task force confronts. Lollar also adds it's an issue nationwide.

"For example, in 2012 approximately 12 million people had their identities stolen," Lollar said. "That was an increase from 2011 by approximately one million people at a monetary loss of about $21 billion."

Identity thieves gain their victims' private information a number of ways. Lollar says they'll dig through trash for documents, hack computers or trick victims into telling them over the phone. It can take years to reclaim and cleanup one's identity after it has been stolen. Matthews says the first thing victims need to do is file a police report. Then run a credit check.

"It would be very smart of you, at that time, to go through your credit report agencies; Equifax, Trans Union, Experian, and get a credit report done on yourself," Matthews said.

Often, criminals can be miles away and out of the task force's jurisdiction. Investigator can, however, work with other law enforcement to help pin point and capture the criminals. They also make it a mission to warn the public of scams.

"The only thing we can do is, as a tool, try and teach the citizens the different types of crimes that are going out and being committed," Matthews said.

One crime committed locally is credit card skimming. This can take place, for example, at a restaurant. A waiter takes a card at the end of dinner and copies the account number and other information. They'll then use it themselves or sell the information online. The task force recently stopped such a scam at a Bossier City Olive Garden, arresting the waiter. Lollar says the best way to avoid this, is to use cash. Otherwise, keep a sharp eye on all credit card and bank accounts.

"If you can't actually see the person using your credit card, you never what is actually taking place with that information," Lollar said. "Watching those accounts and making sure that those amounts in receipts that you retain after those are charges are made is the best thing to do."

Lollar says victims should expect large sums to spent or taken for their accounts. Credit and debit card thieves have figured out away to keep their victims clueless. They simply take small amounts, thinking no one will notice.

"Criminals are getting smart at what they do," Lollar said. "They're actually not talking large amounts of money out of an account. They take smaller amounts that equate to a larger amount over a period of time."

Vice, over at Top Dollar Pawn, is taking a different approach to make sure his business doesn't fall for another scam. It's now policy to cut into gold or silver coins that come in to be pawned. That way his employees can see what's beneath any tricky, shiny plating.  

To contact Bossier's Financial Crime Task Force, call 318-741-8605. In Caddo Parish and Shreveport, call 318-681-0771. 

 

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