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This Is One Crime That Didn't Compute

NCJ Number
Date Published
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This article describes the investigative techniques used by the Financial Crimes Division of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in arresting and achieving a 99-percent conviction rate in cases that involved a group of regular users of methamphetamine who were engaged in various types of check fraud and forgery that had victimized thousands of people and businesses.

An informant supplied a detective in the Financial Division with the street names ("monikers") of 25 to 50 members of the group, which worked mainly out of the Hollywood area. Since the informant indicated that all members of the groups were regular users of methamphetamine, the financial-crimes detective worked with a narcotics detective in Hollywood in the investigation of the cases. The moniker was the starting point of the investigation of each individual. A moniker was linked to a location, which was placed under surveillance. Probable cause and the subsequent search warrant typically focused on some type of drug involvement. After booking the suspect on drug charges, a forgery warrant would be issued based on evidence seized from the suspect's house. The recovering of stolen mail carrying checks prompted a referral to a U.S. Postal Inspector, who then filed Federal charges. Group members were able to design, print, and cash counterfeit checks by using a computer program. Seized computers were transferred to the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC)-West, which used its resources and expertise to retrieve incriminating evidence of drug deals, forgeries, and credit card fraud. The investigation, which is ongoing, has produced more than 200 arrests and cleared several hundred cases of fraud, some dating as far back as 1993.

Date Published: January 1, 1999