Lubbock's Fastest Growing Crime and What's Being Done to Protect You From Becoming a Victim - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/3/04

Lubbock's Fastest Growing Crime and What's Being Done to Protect You From Becoming a Victim

From 2002 to 2003 the number of forged checks has gone up at least 30%. In 2002, there were more than 630,000 reported check forgeries. In 2003 that number jumped to almost 900,000. Police say procedures to lower those numbers are in place, but not all businesses use them and that leaves people like you at risk. 

"Notices were coming in every week and it's pretty hectic," says check forgery victim, Justin Cruce. 

Dozens of  Cruce's checks were stolen right out of his own home last fall. And months later, he's still dealing with what has happened.

"It's just a nuisance I'm having to go everyday and take care of these checks, sign forgery affidavits, pay fees," says Cruce.

Many of his checks were written to local businesses but they've also shown up in Abilene, Plainview, even as far away as Missouri.

"A substantial number of businesses don't put out the effort to try to stop it. Even though it's somewhat preventable," says Lubbock Police Sergeant, Keith Woodard.

In 1998, Lubbock Police introduced businesses to a fingerprint system. Check writers simply place their fingerprint beside their signature. But Sgt. Woodard says many businesses have stopped that practice and criminals are taking advantage of their leniancy.

"If there was a fingerprint on that check that's proof the person that passed that check that's who it was and we can find out who that is rather rapidly," says Woodard.

Justin says businesses who don't check IDs from check writers are adding to the problem. 

"It's taking away from the business because they're not getting paid. It's a problem for me because it goes on my credit sometimes and it's a nuisance and they get away with it," says Cruce.

NewsChannel 11 did our own unscientific experiment today and went to two businesses, neither one asked for our IDs. Police say when businesses were checking for IDs or using the fingerprint system the number of check forgeries declined 40%, so they are encouraging businesses to put that into practice again. Check forgery is a state jail felony. If you forge a check, you could pay a fine as much as $10,000 and spend two years in jail for each check you write.

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