OLYMPIA – Thurston County residents are invited to attend a free forum on methamphetamine related fraud and identity theft. The presentation has been designed to inform people about the dramatic increase in the numbers and kinds of fraud being perpetrated on the public. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the number of identity theft victims in Washington State has more than doubled in two years. Sergeant Jim Dunn of the Thurston County Sheriff's Office says he has seen the upswing in the Thurston County area. "We have two full-time investigators assigned to fraud related cases and we are swamped. Each of us has about 60 active cases at any one time and more cases are reported almost daily. The sheer number and types of associated crimes are phenomenal. Among the crimes are mail theft, ID theft, forgery, possession of counterfeit checks or the software to make counterfeit checks, possession of fake ID, possession of stolen ID, financial fraud and more."
Dunn also says the fraud cases can be very complex. "When you have someone in possession of hundreds of pieces of stolen mail, just contacting potential victims is a challenge. Add to that the other related crimes and the case can compound itself very quickly. One case we worked on for example had more than 150 separate charges involved."
At the core of many of the fraud and identity theft cases is methamphetamine. "There are cases where stolen mail and financial information is traded for meth. Or we have addicts who use fraud to gain money for purchase of meth and we have cooks who perform financial crimes in order to gain money for purchase of the ingredients needed to make meth. A lot of long-term meth users are otherwise unemployable, so financial fraud becomes their job."
At the forum, attendees will learn-
The free fraud forum will be held at the Worthington Center at Saint Martin's College 5300 Pacific Avenue Southeast, Lacey, Thursday night, February 19th 2004 from 6:30 to 8:30. The forum is sponsored by the Thurston County Methamphetamine Coalition and TOGETHER! Because of space considerations, those wishing to attend are urged to call Kathy at TOGETHER! at 360-493-2230. Or you can e-mail Kathy at email@example.com