From identity theft to online and phone scams, Facebook schemes and Internet dating websites, the ways are many and varied when it comes to channels criminals use to try and take your money and sometimes your financial identity.
And according to Madison County Sheriff’s Investigator Doug Martin, the methods criminals use are changing all the time, often faster than law enforcement can keep up with.
“All these things like online shopping, dating, social media, even pre-loaded credit cards from the IRS at tax time are making things more convenient for us – but there is a price, and that price is that it is opening us all up to more fraud,” said Martin, who spends most of his time investigating these crimes. “It’s ultimately making us and our money less secure.”
Martin has been with the sheriff’s office for 18 years and has spent the last six as an investigator. As time went by and identity theft and fraud crimes in the county increased, he’s moved to working on these cases full-time.
In Madison County, the primary crimes of this type are financial crimes like credit card fraud, identity theft, forgeries and scams.
“That’s the bulk of my case load right now,” Martin said.
It complicated and time-consuming work, tracking down leads and it’s all very paperwork intensive, Martin said.
For example, when someone reports their credit or debit card information has been used without their permission, Martin has to make a formal request to the financial institution(s) involved to get information to compile a case. It helps, he said, that he’s been on the job for a while now and has developed relationships that allow him to gain access a little quicker, but it still takes time. Much of the time now, the victim still has their actual credit/debit card in hand when they discover their card information has been used somewhere without their permission.
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