Financial crimes can include identity theft, deceptive practices, forgery, fraud, credit card fraud, and financial exploitation of the elderly or disabled. Generally, these crimes are difficult to solve, Sizer said, as offenders may be anywhere in the world."When the economy tanked, everyone thought that property-based crimes would be on the rise," Sizer said. "That didn't happen. It was financial crimes that were on the rise."
In 2009, Sugar Grove had 48 reports of financial crime. Through February 2010, eight were reported.Since the beginning of March, seven have already been reported:
• On March 4, a woman in the 100 block of Maple Street reported a $981 transfer from her bank account that she did not initiate or authorize.
• On March 4, a man in the 100 block Joy Street reported he was scammed out of $1,600 when someone asked him to deposit a check for a stereo via Facebook.
• On March 4, a woman in the 200 block of Maple Street reported the she was fraudulently charged for headsets.
• On March 11, a man in the 800 block of Black Walnut Drive reported he received a $187.25 bill from AT&T. He does not have any AT&T phone accounts.
• On March 15, a man in the 100 block of Arbor Street told police 12 purchases he did not initiate or authorize were made with his credit card.
• On March 18, a man in the 500 block of Brookhaven Circle reported he was fraudulently charged $192.84 on his AT&T bill from a third party that he did not receive services from.
• On March 22, a man in the 200 block of Berkshire Lane said his credit card had been fraudulently charged $80.62 on a Web site and was flagged when the suspect attempted to buy a laptop on the card.
Criminals get creative
Sizer said he is continually surprised by new financial scams that are reported.
"I don't know how people come up with these things, but they are only limited by their creativity," he said.Deborah J. Fletcher, 42, of Neil Road in Sugar Grove, was charged with unlawful use of a credit card in February when she stole her children's identities and racked up $12,000 in credit card debt in their names, Sizer said."Now, their credit is trashed," he said. "Thankfully in that case, the bank is working with (the children)."
Sizer said the elderly are primary targets in identity theft cases.
Vera Madison, 39, of Yorkville was charged in 2007 with two counts each of aggravated identity theft and unlawful use of a credit card when she posed as a credit card fraud investigator, targeting a dozen elderly women with last names that began with "W." She obtained their information, set up a new billing address and made herself an authorized user on their cards, police said.In two weeks, she had spent almost $40,000, and she had already operated this scam for two years in Chicago, Sizer said. Madison remains a fugitive and is wanted by federal authorities, he said.
"The scary thing is we never figured out how she got their names, phone numbers and credit card numbers," Sizer said.
The latest credit card scam Sugar Grove police have become aware of involves a supposed victim who sells their card to someone for $250, then the buyer racks up charges on the card and the "victim" reports it stolen, ensuring that the bank reimburses the money.
"In this case, the victim is being a participant in the scam," Sizer said.

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