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Economic Crimes Unit

UPDATED: November 8, 2018

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Sharon S. Park 
Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney,
Economic Crimes Unit

 

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Bad Check Diversion Program

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Retail Fraud Diversion Program

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Statistics

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Unreturned Rental Property Diversion

 


 

Over $6,945,000 in Restitution Returned to Area Merchants since 2002!

 


LOCATION:
The Economic Crimes Unit office is a located in the Lansing Mall,
near the Mall offices behind the Food Court.


CONTACT NUMBERS:
Phone (517) 543-4647 ~ Fax (517) 543-4863


E-MAIL:
ecu@eatoncounty.org


HOURS:
8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

 

 Pamphlets, Forms & Documents

Bad Check Program Brochure & Forms

Stop Bad Check Losses (brochure)
ECU Merchants' Complaint Form
ECU Notice Letter
Warning Sign for display by Merchants

Electronic Funds Transfer

Electronic Funds Transfer Letter
Electronic Funds Transfer Complaint

Unreturned Rental Property Diversion Program Forms

Merchant's Complaint Form (send to ECU)
Merchant's Notice Letter (send to Customer)
ECU letter re: new Unreturned Rental Property Diversion program 
Rental Warning Sign 


Retail Fraud Program Forms

Cognitive Consultants
Cognitive Consultants: Informed Consent Form (30 kb)
Cognitive Consultants: Map to office (38 kb)


 

Everyone knows that bad checks are bad news to merchants and honest customers alike. Merchants lose thousands of dollars a year, and customers pay higher prices passed on by merchants to offset their losses.

In the past, merchants trying to get their money back from these criminals had two choices: (1) try to sue, which was cumbersome and expensive; or (2) report it to the police, which could take months and often resulted in little, if any, justice.

The Economic Crimes Unit (ECU), which began in October 2002, gives merchants a third choice. Merchants refer bad check cases to the ECU, which reviews the facts and decides if the bad check writer qualifies for a diversion program. Those who qualify must repay the merchant the amount of the bad check and bank fees, plus pay the Unit a separate diversion-programming fee. Some participants will be required to attend an economics crime course. Those who comply will not be formally charged for writing the bad check. It's a win-win situation: merchants get their money back and the bad check writers pay for their own investigation and prosecution.

Formal criminal prosecution will remain an option for the ECU. However, it is reserved for repeat offenders, bad check writers with extensive criminal histories, or those bad check writers who fail to comply with the diversion program.

Since 2002, the ECU's diversion program has expanded beyond Eaton County bounced check cases to now include many of the Michigan Secretary of State's and the Ingham County Prosecutor's bad check cases; retail fraud (shoplifting); failure to return rental property (ranging from rental cars, to commercial contracts for rent-to-own home items, to library books); welfare fraud; social security fraud; and electronic fund transfer cases.

The ECU is a business approach to business crimes. Participation in the Economic Crimes Unit will benefit all law-abiding citizens as well as help businesses improve their bottom line.

 


 

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Merchant Tips

 

 


Cashing a check is a privilege, not a right.


A check is not an I.O.U. The full amount of the funds should be in the bank at the time of the transaction.

A merchant has the right to refuse to accept a check from anyone, and may ask for another form of payment for goods or services.

 

 

Tips for Accepting Checks

  1. Institute and display a check acceptance policy for your employees and customers.
  2. Look at the Check !!!
  3. Be suspicious of checks that have a low check number, a handwritten check number, or no printed name.
  4. Checks must be dated the same day they are given.
  5. Do not accept pre-signed checks. All checks should be signed in your presence.
  6. Ask for government issued picture ID or Driver's License. Compare the signatures on the identification provided with the one on the check. Write down the ID number yourself Do not let the check writer to write down their identification numbers. (Your personal handwriting is a good way for you to authenticate that you processed that check.) If the identification number is printed on the check, still verify the number with the ID card.
         Tip: The first 3 numbers on a Michigan Driver's License must be 000 or between 100-666 (with no digit greater than 6) or between 726-730.
  7. Make sure that the numeric dollar amount matches the written dollar amount.
  8. Require a permanent street address not a P.O. Box number.
  9. Do not accept "starter checks".
  10. Do not accept checks from persons who live and/or bank out of state. (It is hard for prosecutors to get out-of-state bank records, and prosecutors may decline to formally extradite such a defendant from that state.)
  11. If a person has given you a bad check before, DO NOT ACCEPT ANOTHER ONE unless the former bad check has been cleared and paid off.

 

Detecting Fraudulent Checks

    • Check the finish on the black magnetic computer numbers on the bottom. True magnetic ink is very dull, not shiny.
    • Look for at least one perforated edge on the check. All checks, except some government or computer-produced checks, should have a perforated edge.
    • Look for any words or numbers that appear to have been altered. Look for different handwriting, different color ink, or any other suspicious differences.
    • Look for changes or additions to the name of the payee. If the color, density or writing of the name appears different, there may have been an alteration.

 

 


 

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ECU Stats

Statistics

STATS SINCE THE E.C.U. OPENED
(2002 - 2017)
Money Collected for Area Merchants $6,945,570.97
Bad Check Cases $2,594,851.84
Retail Fraud Cases $700,311.48
Rental Property Cases $244,302.97
Welfare Fraud Cases $957,793.60
Social Security Fraud Cases $68,339.25
Secretary of State Cases $2,017,068.15
Electronic Fund Transfer Cases $78,664.65
Ingham County Bad Check Cases $212,859.78
Other $71,379.25


 

RESTITUTION RETURNED TO MERCHANTS BY FISCAL YEAR
(2002 - 2017)
2003 $168,523.77
2004 $224,608.89
2005 $362,999.42
2006 $393,754.63
2007 $504,669.37
2008 $568,685.61
2009 $535,808.06
2010 $667,038.17
2011 $554,298.17
2012 $474,846.81
2013 $457,560.11
2014 $511,729.52
2015 $622,080.17
2016 $464,843.18
2017 $443,557.09
TOTAL $6,945,570.97

 


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