Citizen Fraud Information
What is phishing?
Phishing is a fraud typically carried out through unsolicited email and/or websites that pose as legitimate sites and lure unsuspecting victims to provide personal and financial information.
Report all unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS or an IRS-related function to firstname.lastname@example.org. Recent frauds have used the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to attract potential victims. Also, if you have experienced any monetary losses due to an IRS-related incident, please report it to the Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through their Complaint Assistant to make the information available to investigators.
NOTE: Please refer to Contact the IRS if you have a tax question not related to phishing or identity theft.
Welcome to the Financial Crimes information page. Below, you will find information on common crimes, valuable resources and tools that may assist you, our citizens, and keep you from being victimized.
Credit Card Theft and Fraud
Check Fraud / Bad Checks
Theft by Deception or Scams (False Pretenses)
Credit Card Theft and Fraud
What is Credit Card Theft?
In its basic terms, Credit Card Theft involves obtaining or taking credit card(s) or credit card numbers of another with the intent to use them fraudulently.
What is Credit Card Fraud?
- This occurs when the credit card or credit card numbers are used fraudulently without the consent of the cardholder.
- If you discover fraudulent transactions on your credit card account, and you still have possession of your credit card, then you may likely be the victim of an Identity Theft. To learn more about Identity Theft, please visit that section.
- Please keep copies of all transactions showing the fraudulent transactions. If someone signed a credit card receipt in your name, the individual may also be committing a separate offense called Credit Card Forgery.
What are some examples of Credit Card Theft and Fraud?
Some recent examples include:
- Your purse is lost or stolen and purchases are made on your credit card without your permission.
In checking your recent statement, you notice that charges were made to your account without your consent.
What is NOT a Credit Card Theft or Fraud?
When you give someone your credit card to use, and the individual charge more than what you allowed him or her to use, then this may not be a crime. Many credit card user agreements explain that when you authorize someone to use your card, then they become an “authorized user”.
What should I do if I discover that my credit card was fraudulently used?
- Report the incident as soon as it is discovered. Timely reporting will assist the detective in obtaining evidence.
Immediately contact your financial institution and cancel your account. Many financial institutions have specialists that will assist you. If one is provided, be sure to obtain their contact information. Make sure you follow up with them IN WRITING. You may be asked to complete an affidavit of fraud, which will be provided by them.
Send a certified letter to the financial institution advising them of the fraudulent transaction.
Request that any response be in writing and keep copies of any correspondence.
File a police report with the appropriate jurisdiction.
Contact the three credit bureaus listed below. Place a Fraud Alert on your credit report. Upon doing so, creditors are required to verify the identity of a person claiming to be you, before extending any credit to them.
How do I protect myself from becoming a victim of Credit Card Theft or Fraud?
- Sign your card with permanent marker as soon as they arrive. Be sure to cut up old cards when they expire.
Treat your credit cards as if they were cash. Keep them in a safe location where you always know where to find them.
Never leave wallets or purses unattended. Criminals are lurking everywhere waiting for an opportunity.
Check receipts thoroughly before signing them. Do not leave any blank spaces, which may invite unscrupulous individuals to add additional amounts.
Keep your receipts in a safe place and check them against your statement.
Shred all statements before disposing of them.
Never provide card information to anyone. Financial Institutions already have all necessary card and personal information and should not ask. Many frauds involve parties posing as representatives from financial institutions. When in doubt, call the number on the back of your card BEFORE providing any information.
Be cautious whenever purchasing from online retailers. Always make sure that the transaction takes place on a secure website.
Check Fraud / Bad Checks
What is Check Fraud?
The term “Check Fraud” covers several different offenses relating to the passing of bank checks with fraudulent purposes. Typically speaking, check fraud covers three basic categories. They include:
Bad Checks – You are selling a car for $1,000. The purchaser writes a check to you for $1,000 that you deposit into your bank and your bank tells you that there are not sufficient funds in the purchasers account to cover the check. These cases are discussed in further detail below.
Forged Checks – Someone steals your blank check and signs your name on the bottom without your knowledge. Once the check is cashed, or uttered, it becomes a separate prosecutable offense.
Counterfeit Checks – Upon receiving and depositing a check, your bank notifies you that the check is counterfeit or that the account does not exist.
What are Bad Checks?
Any check that is written to a business or person, and the check is returned by the bank because of insufficient funds, insufficient credit, or due to closure of the account.
Can someone be arrested for writing a bad check?
- Yes, if the intent is to defraud. Writing and delivering, known as uttering, a check without sufficient funds or credit is punishable by law.
- If the check is written for more than $500, it is a felony under the Code of Virginia.
What information will you need to investigate the case of a bad check?
First, the check must be received in person in the Town of Purcellville. This will establish jurisdiction within the town to allow for possible prosecution. Second, the victim who accepted the check must send a certified letter, return receipt requested, to the person who wrote the check. The letter must demand full payment within 5 days of receipt of the letter. Finally, the victim must have the original check including the bank’s reason for non-payment.
Are all bad check cases considered criminal cases?
No, there are several cases that would be considered civil, not criminal. In addition, as intent plays a pivotal role in criminal cases, the INTENT of the suspect must be to defraud the victim of money or goods.
What is Embezzlement?
Closely related to larceny, embezzlement occurs when someone is placed in a position of trust and wrongfully takes, steals or uses property belonging to another. Should this be the case, they may be committing an offense of embezzlement. Positions of trust include, but are not limited to, an office being held or simply your employment.
Examples of Embezzlement include:
- A cashier takes a portion of the sales for themselves.
The treasurer of an organization takes a portion of proceeds received at an event.
An employee uses a company credit card without permission to purchase gifts.
What is not Embezzlement?
If the person taking money or property did not have control of such items by virtue of their employment or trust, then they are committing a larceny, not Embezzlement.
What should I do if I am a victim of Embezzlement?
- You should file a police report with the jurisdiction in which the offense occurred.
- The person suspected of the crime should have limited and monitored access to any records or documents.
- Review any policies and make any necessary changes using the information you have learned about the incident.
What are some tips that I can use to avoid becoming the victim of Embezzlement?
- Complete background checks before hiring an employee.
- Keep track and monitor every company check.
Conduct regular audits of cash and property to assure accuracy.
Make nightly bank deposits. Cash is very tempting and easy to steal.
Understand your accounting books.
Separate duties. One of the most common ways for someone to embezzle is to take a little bit of cash that comes in and then adjust the records to hide it.
Consider requiring employees to take vacations. Even complex schemes require maintenance to assure they remain hidden. When employees are on vacation, you can see what happens when they are not around.