The Burglary Unit was started in 2011 to take a holistic approach to solving burglaries and coordinating resources. When an officer takes a report, it is referred to the Unit for evaluation. The Unit, which is made up of a group of detectives, will actively investigate cases where there are viable leads, such as fingerprints, eyewitnesses, or DNA. The Unit coordinates cases where it is obvious that a string of burglaries was completed by the same persons or group. The Burglary Unit is also responsible for commercial burglary investigations.
The Burglary Unit also follows up with victims, and provides them information on how to avoid being victimized again.
What is elder fraud?
Financial exploitation of senior citizens includes many issues. It may occur when a durable power of attorney document or joint bank account ownership is misused. Financial exploitation also may occur when guardians or conservators misuse their authority over wards and their estates. Further, financial exploitation may occur when fraud or undue influence is used to gain control over an elder’s real and personal property and financial resources. Financial exploitation may occur when parties to a real estate transfer fail to provide reasonable consideration for the transfer. Finally, financial exploitation may occur when an elder consumer is victimized by consumer scams, telemarketing fraud, sweepstakes fraud, predatory lending, and other scams that target elderly persons.
Why do criminals target the elderly?
Criminals often target senior citizens (65 or older) because they manage a large percentage of the nation’s liquid assets and may be more vulnerable to fraud and deception due to age related physical and cognitive limitations. The assets stolen may represent an elderly victim’s life’s savings.
Senior citizens may be hesitant to report this financial abuse because of embarrassment or simply because the system may seem so cumbersome. Seniors may be afraid of losing their independence, losing control over their finances or being moved from their home. Senior citizens therefore need the support and encouragement of family and friends.
Some examples of elder fraud are:
- Cashing an elder's checks without authorization.
- Using the elder's charge card number for one's own benefit.
- Handling an elder's money without durable power of attorney (which authorizes the person to manage the elder's finances.)
- Withdrawing cash from an elder's bank account with an ATM card, without the elder's permission.
- Scamming an elder by convincing him or her to withdraw money from the bank, and then taking the money.
- Stealing an elders' checks, such as Social Security checks or pension checks, from the U.S. mail.
- Identity theft, including collecting checks and cashing them after the person has died.
- Convincing or forcing an elder to sign a contract that results in unwanted financial or material commitments.
- Home repair where services are paid for and no work is done.
- Convincing or forcing an elder to change a will or a deed.
- Enrolling an elder in unneeded services or subscriptions.
- Getting donations from an elder under false pretenses.
- Stealing household goods or money while caring for an elder.
- Telemarketing fraud.
- Marrying someone for his or her money (known as a sweetheart swindle), either for immediate financial gain or to inherit their money after death.
- What should I do?
If you know a senior citizen, a parent, or a friend, who either is, or may be a victim of financial exploitation you need to notify aging services and the police. You can consult the web sites below for further information and assistance.
Aging and Disability Services
Nationa lCenter on Elder Abuse
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is when someone acquires key pieces of someone’s identity with the intent to commit fraud. Information such as name, date of birth, social security number, mother’s maiden name, etc., can help a criminal impersonate someone else. Once criminals have access to this information they can commit many different kinds of fraud using the victims identity.
(See ORS 165.800 Identity theft).
How to Protect Yourself
- Guard personal information. Shred old checks and receipts, bank and credit card statements, credit card applications, credit cards, insurance forms, and any other documents with personal or account information that you are discarding.
- Protect your mail. Use a locking mailbox. Deposit payments at the local post office or hand deliver them to a mail carrier.
- Never keep an ATM card and the PIN (Personal Identification Number) together. Do not allow anyone to help you enter a PIN or conduct a transaction at an ATM.
- Never allow your credit card number to be recorded on a check. Carry only those credit cards that you actually need.
- Protect your driver license and social security number.
- Review bank and credit card statements carefully each month. Report any suspicious activity on an account immediately. Be aware of when you regularly receive your statements. Contact your bank or credit card company if you statement is not received when expected.
What should I do if I am the victim of identity theft?
If you are the victim of fraud, there are things you can do to minimize the damage now and perhaps, prevent a recurrence later. The guidelines below include several suggestions regarding whom to contact, along with where, why, and how. Act quickly and assertively to minimize the damage. As you have contact with various agencies and institutions, remember to keep a log of all conversations, including dates, names, and telephone numbers. Confirm conversations in writing. Keep copies of all letters and documents.
Be aware of (and make notations of) time and money spent in resolving related problems. A judgment or conviction may allow you to request restitution.
1. Report the crime to your local law enforcement department.
Ask for your case number and keep a record of it. If you are reporting the crime to the Portland Police Bureau, a high priority has been placed by the Records Division to provide a case number within 24 hours of receipt of your report. You may need your police report or case number when you report the fraud to the applicable financial intuitions. In Portland , call the non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333 to make your initial police report.
In addition to filing a police report also report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission .
2. Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus.
You needto place a fraud alert on your credit file. The fraud alert requests creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. As soon as the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will be automatically notified to place fraud alerts.
The three major credit bureaus are:
Equifax - www.equifax.com
To order your report, call: 800-685-1111 or write:
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285 and write:
Hearing impaired call 1-800-255-0056 and ask the operator to call the Auto Disclosure Line at 1-800-685-1111 to request a copy of your report.
Experian - www.experian.com
To order your report, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) or write:
P.O. Box 2002, Allen TX 75013
To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) and write:
P.O. Box 9530, Allen TX 75013
Trans Union - www.transunion.com
To order your report, call: 800-888-4213 or write:
P.O. Box 1000,Chester, PA 19022
3. Order a copy of your credit report.
Free Credit Reports: Recent changes to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allow consumers to get a free copy of their credit report annually. Beginning December 1, consumers on the West Coast can take advantage of this offer by going to www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
4. Once you receive your credit report.
Immediately contact all creditors with whom your identity has been fraudulently used, by telephone and mail. Obtain new account numbers for those compromised accounts and ask that the old accounts be processed as “account closed at consumer’s request”. A “lost or stolen” card may be interpreted as blaming you for the loss. Check your mail thoroughly and regularly for any evidence of new fraudulent activity.
For additional information:
Privacy Rights Clearing House
Oregon Office of the Attorney General
Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services
The Internet Fraud Complaint Center
National Crime Prevention Council
FTC (Federal Trade Commission)
U.S.Postal Service – Consumer Fraud Page
Internet Scam Busters
Stolen social security numbers (e-mail address)
You also can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 to verify the accuracy of the earnings reported on your social security number, and to request a copy of your social security statement or to get a replacement social security number card if yours is lost or stolen. Follow up in writing.
Business Theft and Embezzlement
What is embezzlement?
It is generally described as the intentional misuse or misappropriation of funds or property entrusted to an employee. In most cases an employee steals money or property from their employer.
If I’ve discovered an embezzlement, who should I call?
Call the police non-emergency number (503) 823-3333 in Portland) to report the theft. You should report the crime in the jurisdiction of occurrence. Have spreadsheets, copies of checks (front and back) and other financial documents ready for the officer who is taking the report. Be sure to request the officer come to your business location to take the report, do not report embezzlements over the phone.
Will the police investigation serve to discover all of the financial losses?
Police will investigate the crime, but we are not certified public accountants (CPA’s). You may require the services of a forensic accountant. You should contact an accountant or you may wish to obtain a referral from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners at
http://www.acfe.com/home.asp . You may have to initiate civil action against the suspect to obtain a monetary judgment.
Where can I get help for properly setting up or improving my business procedures?
You may wish to contact a qualified business consultant, or a Certified Public Accountant. You can get additional information on business from the Better Business Bureau, Http://www/bbb/org or Http://www.oregon.gov whichserves Oregon businesses, or the Service Corps of Retired Executives, at their web site, http://www.scorepdx.org/brc.htm . There are other providers of information and services available.
The following information is a starting place for basic prevention. While this is not a forum to address all the potential areas prone to embezzlement, we hope the material will bring the topic to prominent attention.
Require financial oversight
- Talk to a CPA or business consultant to learn about the weak points of your business procedures. Determine the level of oversight needed to secure you finances and inventory.
- Provide clear direction for employees with access to financial activity. Use acceptable procedures, practices, and limits. Establish a procedure for regular reviews and reconciliation of your business financial accounts and inventories.
- Business Plan
- Your business plan should include the level of authority and duties for your bookkeepers or cashiers (you should do this for all employees). Discuss with appropriate employees.
- Have each employee indicate their understanding by signing and dating the description of duties and responsibilities.
- Share your ethical sense with your employees. If your employees understand your business plan, it may help them to reflect the company ethics as they participate in growing and safeguarding your business.
- Inform your employees that you will vigorously prosecute all internal thefts.
- Once your policies and procedures have been analyzed, does your business insurance provide the coverage you want/need? Does you business have an employee dishonesty policy.
- Employee Background
- Key positions may require a background check. Your business consultant may suggest you start by requesting a release for any record checks that you may require.
Detection of Fraud
- The following is a list of routine tips for detection of fraud in an office setting. Be sure to check with a business consultant or qualified CPA for additional suggestions.
- Is there a lack of segregation of duties?
- Is there a sudden, unexplained change in business profits (shifting cash position)?
- Is a key employee experiencing financial problems?
- Do you find accounting irregularities in your business?
- Do you have internal control weaknesses?
- Does an employee have an extravagant lifestyle?
- Does a key employee have addictions?
- Are there anomalies or discrepancies in product returns, inventory, or purchases?
- Don’t be complacent if something seems wrong - Investigate!
- If you determine that you have been a victim, organize your evidence and notify the police.
Home Repair and Construction Fraud
What is Construction Fraud?
Construction fraud occurs if a person engaged in construction knowingly:
- Obtains money, property or labor by false pretense.
- Receives payments and fails to state his own true name, or states a false name, contractor’s license number, address or telephone number of the person offering a service.
- Diverts money or commits any act of theft, forgery, fraud or embezzlement, in connection with a construction project.
- Acts as a contractor without a contractor's license.
- Fails to disclose a material fact.
- Construction fraud is also where services are paid for Home repair but no work is done.
Repair businesses and individuals who solicit door-to-door
- Offer you special deals, using left-over materials from another job.
- Arrive in unmarked vehicles or vehicles with out of state plates.
- Have a post office box or temporary address.
- Pressure you to pay in full before any work is done or materials are delivered.
- Protect yourself!
The biggest key to preventing contractor fraud lies with you, the homeowner.
- Know your contractor.
- Make sure the contractor is properly licensed.
- Obtain and check references.
- Get all agreements in writing.
- Be sure you have signed contracts and receipts; and do not verbally authorize subsequent changes.
To obtain additional information about your contractor, check the following web sites:
Oregon Construction Contractors Board
The Better Business Bureau
Oregon Department of Justice Hotline
Special Property Investigations
The City of Portland regulates pawnshops and certain aspects of dealers in secondhand property. The primary responsibility of the Special Property Investigations detail, is the recovery of stolen property that is found in Pawnshops and Secondhand stores in the City of Portland. The Police Bureau uses a system called Rapid—a database in which officers enter serial numbers of stolen property. Pawnshops and secondhand stores are required to enter the same information when purchasing property, along with the seller’s information and fingerprint. This tool is extremely helpful in locating stolen property. It is also a reminder to mark your property with your driver’s license number (and state) and write down your serial numbers and put them in a safe place in case you are every victimized.