MARKED TREE, AR (KAIT) - According to Detective Jeremy Bond, the Marked Tree Police Department has arrested 54 people on charges of forgery this year, more than double the total number of arrests in 2008 at 22. Bond told Region 8 News Tuesday he believes it's a mix of economic circumstances and technological improvements.
"I think it has to do with the technology being easier for them to acquire and the economy. Jobs are down. I don't think it's solely based on the economy because a lot of the people that we're dealing with are repeat offenders. They've been doing this. It's really an easy crime to get away with," said Bond.
Bond said he's currently working a case in which two individuals have written 45 checks in the amount of $18,000.
"It's just computer generated checks. They're going and buying check paper and they're printing stuff out at home and then going to places and cashing the checks," said Bond.
Bond said suspects are obtaining check paper from local supply stores and using their computers to manufacture fake checks.
"Predominantly what we're getting is most of the checks that are being cashed here are being done at the grocery store here that cashes payroll checks and does that sort of thing," said Bond. "They're using fake names. They're using fake ID's. As long as you've got some type of ID with some type of number on it, they don't get real particular on it."
Bond said some suspects have written checks on behalf of the Marked Tree School District and Three Rivers Nursing Center.
"You're going to have people that are unemployed. They're probably going to be drug users and things of that nature. So if they can make $100 by running and jumping in a car and going down here and cashing a check real quick, that's $100 they didn't have," said Bond.
Bond said banks in Region 8 haven't had as much of a problem with forged checks as grocery and department stores that cash payroll checks.
"People getting somebody else's banking information and now we're seeing an increase in the number of people generating their own fake checks," said Bond.
"Anything that is a get rich quick scheme is a scheme and the person that cashes the check is going to end up losing," said Bonnie Thompson.
Thompson is Vice President of Unico Bank in Marked Tree. She said forgery isn't a problem at her bank, but fraud is becoming an increasing concern.
"If the check is written on your account and it's a forgery, you're not responsible for that," said Thompson. "Our customers are notified and the police department. With the police report, the funds are put back into our customers accounts."
Thompson said most victims of forgery know the suspect.
"A lot of times it's a family member or a friend, somebody that knows them," said Thompson. "If they keep it under a certain amount, then you can write a check at some of the stores and never have to show ID."
"A lot of people don't balance their checkbooks. When they get their bank statement in, they don't know if something is wrong until four or five months down the road," said Thompson.
Bond said some people fall victim even without knowing.
"People access your information and they'll get such a small minute amount of money, but they do so much at a time. Ten, 15 times a day for a dollar or two dollars, they get away with that for a couple of weeks and it adds up," said Bond.
Bond also said it's difficult to fight forgery crimes because police can't be proactive. Bond said criminals oftentimes work together as well.
"He's just sitting back cutting the checks and he's getting a cut of the money and all he does is print them off. As fast as he can print them, he's finding somebody," said Bond.