Seminar a proactive step to stopping financial crime

Banks, casinos and their employees should be better suited to nab suspected fraudulent-check passers following a seminar Thursday sponsored by the Carson City Sheriff's Department.

The Check Fraud Seminar -- the department's first such seminar in two years -- provided merchants with basic knowledge for the identification and detection of fraudulent check cashing.

James Deal, special agent with the U.S. Secret Service, talked of counterfeit money and the effects of fraudulent check and credit card transactions on the economy.

Deal said such seminars are vital in stemming the increasing tide of identity theft due to the growing number of computer savvy criminals.

"The seminars bring down crime through education," he said. "Don't be a victim. Nothing says (merchants) have to cash someone's check."

With the transient, gaming atmosphere in Nevada, Deal said the state is second in the nation behind Washington D.C., in financial crimes.

"We've got to do more of these seminars and get these casino people on board so they're not an easy mark," he said.

Two years ago, the Pi-ion Plaza and Carson Station casinos attended the Sheriff's Departments seminar and purchased two counterfeit detection devices called the Posse.

The machine is designed to backlight money and checks to search for watermarks, fiber and micro-print and can also magnify checks, money and IDs for counterfeit marks

The machines have been 99 percent effective in stopping criminals from passing bad checks at the casinos.

"We've had only two cases since we bought the systems and that was because of employee error," said John Sunderland, director of cage and credit operations for the Pi-ion Plaza. Sunderland said the seminar was mandatory for all cage personnel and casino security at both properties.

The $1,800 investment has saved the casinos $3,000 to $10,000 a month, he said.

"We scan checks, money, IDs. Everything we aren't comfortable with," is run under the fluorescent lights of the Posse, he said.

Detective Sgt. Bob White said the Sheriff's Department handles about 20 to 30 bad checks cases a week.

"In the eight years I've been involved with department the number of cases has probably quadrupled because it's an easy crime to do," he said.

Of the detective divisions current 100 cases, he said half are check fraud and of those only about 10 percent will be solved.

The seminar, which White hopes to offer annually, is a good way to educate merchants who can learn what's important in prosecuting these criminals and putting them in prison, he said.

"The information to prosecute has to come from the business side," he said. "If they don't know what they're doing, can't identify the criminal or they get a bad fingerprint, the (District Attorney's Office) can't do its job."


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