Saturday, December 26, 2009

Miranda Warnings: Hollywood Vs. Real World

How many times have we all seen a television show or movie that depicts an arrest and while in the process the LEO'S give Miranda Warnings to the suspect? How many of us actually do that? As a member of a patrol division or a detective squad I submit that doing that too soon can be just as bad as not doing it at all.
The truth is if you're a patrol cop and you make an arrest, there is a chance you may want to question your arrestee. If you were to administer Miranda as you are arresting your suspect like they do on television, you may very well be shutting your bad guy (or girl)down before you need to. The ride "back to the house" can be very productive depending on circumstances. If it's a job that you will handle all the way through, you are going to want to talk to your subject right? Why then would you want to lose the opportunity to gather spontaneously uttered information? Those comments and statements made from the rear of your patrol vehicle by your subject will certainly be called into question if you gave Miranda prior to them being made. I have seen too many times LEO's in the real world doing their job as if they were trained by cops on different TV shows...sad but true. We are human and absent a good training officer and /or mentor people (yes even Police Officers) will act based on what they are exposed to.
Being a detective for many years it is one aspect of TV and movies that I cannot deal with. Why would a producer/director of a movie or series show take the time to hire real LEO's (retired or active) as consultants and then throw in the mistake of advising Miranda as the arrest is taking place? Because that is what people have seemingly come to expect. The same reason all the CSI issues are now so's been shown in the movies and on TV so much, real jurors expect DNA, fingerprint evidence and other aspects of crime scene investigation to be present in a case before they will convict (but that's yet another post).
It is not necessary to advise an arrested person of their right to remain silent UNLESS they are going to be questioned! Yes they have been arrested, yes you will want to question them. Think about this...
don't do it on the street to "get it out of the way", or to make sure you won't forget. Give them the opportunity to "vent" all the way back to the station. Then, during your "pre-interview chat" let them know their rights prior to getting into your subject matter.
I realize we all have or own style of working and we all do what we have found works best for"us"....but let's keep our edge and don't give away the game before you get started.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

“Don’t investigate your conclusion – let your conclusion be a result of your investigation”.

According to a research report Anti-Money Laundering: A Brave New World for Financial Institutions, money laundering is typically a three-stage process:

Stage One: Placement. Moving illicit funds into the financial system by, for example, depositing cash in banks, buying valuables (gold, diamonds, artwork), etc.

Stage Two: Layering. Moving the funds around in the financial system to cover the audit trail to the origination point of the funds. Examples are multiple cross-border wire transfers, investments in securities, deposits in overseas “shell” banks or secret bank accounts (e.g., numbered accounts).

Stage Three: Integration. Finally, the disguised funds are reintroduced into the legitimate economy. This may be accomplished by investing the money in real estate or business ventures, or to acquire luxury assets or other goods, sometimes through the use of credit cards. “Front” businesses are sometimes established for this purpose. A front business engages in legitimate business operations, but at the same time generates false invoices or uses other techniques to absorb the laundered funds.

Money laundering schemes can range from simple to sophisticated. Here are a few examples:
Generation and payment of false invoices. This technique involves a front business which creates invoices for goods and services not actually delivered, or delivered at inflated prices, allowing money launderers to collect and bank cash that is effectively disguised as sales for a business operation.

Loan defaulting. In this scheme, the launderer takes out a bank loan, using the illicit funds as collateral. The launderer then deliberately defaults on the loan, causing the bank to lay claim to the collateral. The launderer has thus effectively traded illicit funds (which the bank now holds) for clean money — the loan money originally extended by the bank.

Manipulation of insurance policies. The malefactor purchases a large insurance policy, pays one or more premiums, and then cancels the policy, obtaining a refund of the premiums (usually minus some penalties). An audit trail would show the refunded monies as originating from the insurance company.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

911 Attack Still Claiming Lives

Years later the attack on the WTC is stil claiming lives of Police Officers. Three more NYPD MOS have had their names added to a memorial for those who lost their lives working the rescue /recovery efforts. Those three officers, Robert B. Helmke of Hauppauge, Det. William J. Holfester of Mastic Beach, and Sgt. Michael W. Ryan of Hauppauge, died of illnesses that may have been related to their efforts at the World Trade Center disaster site following the Sept. 11 attacks, officials said.
Cop Arrested On Train: I Was Defending Myself

An off-duty NYPD officer arrested after allegedly pointing his gun at Long Island Rail Road passengers has said he was defending himself against unruly hockey fans, but authorities said Tuesday the now-suspended cop broke the law when he brandished his weapon.

“The allegation is that he was not acting in any legal law enforcement capacity, and he allegedly used his weapon to menace the passengers, so it doesn’t matter that he’s licensed or a trained professional,” said Eric Phillips, a spokesman for the Nassau district attorney’s office.
At his Brentwood home, Officer David Hendrick, 38, declined to comment Tuesday.

In an earlier interview on News 12 Long Island, he said he was “letting them know who’s boss” when he pulled his gun on what he described as several drunk and aggressive Rangers fans coming home from a game Sunday night. He said in the interview that he identified himself as a police officer on the 9:17 p.m. Ronkonkoma-bound train and warned them to stop harassing passengers. “It started out with cursing, disrespecting people, drinking,” he said.

He said he told the group, “You have two choices: Stop the drinking, stop the cursing, stop the smoking, the disrespect by everybody, or I escort you off the train.”

He continued: “A rumble ensued. I had my gun on me. They were coming at me. We were fighting, throwing blows. . . . I pulled out my gun, pointed it at the subjects. It was two against one.”

Later Tuesday, he was no longer talking. He returned home just after 5 p.m. When he saw reporters, he sprinted to his front door.

MTA and Nassau police had arrested Hendrick on Sunday at the Mineola station.

Hendrick pleaded not guilty Monday in Nassau District Court in Hempstead to second-degree criminal possession of a loaded weapon, a felony, and second-degree menacing, a misdemeanor. A judge set bond at $2,000 and cash bail at $1,000. If convicted, Hendrick faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Reprinted from PoliceLink

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Why Don’t We Get It…?

Here we go again, Officers in a jam over postings on Facebook. This time a few buddies got together and video taped themselves burning a dummy wearing the agency’s uniform while leaning up against a cross. Then, the coupe de gras…show it to the world! Resignations and demotions followed. Whether it will stick is another thing.

The act itself and the posting of the video was said to have been a “stress reliever” with the names of other Officers’ and the head of the agency pinned to the dummy. Now one Officer will have a lot less stress having been relieved of supervisory duties in the Investigative Division of their department and another can relax at home…
Look, there is no one that is more of a prankster and joker than yours truly. It’s fun to have a good time and “act up”. It’s also easy to understand some of the things we all do that we call “stress relievers”. We are different when it comes to the things we see and deal with. This job calls for a certain type of humor in order to survive that most of the civilized world just doesn’t get. It is getting old though watching people get jammed and ruin their careers for posting idiotic rants and videos on social networking sites. I also do not always agree with the decisions to discipline people over exercising their right to free speech (or what we believe is free…but that’s another post altogether!). We are obviously held to a higher standard and are expected to set ourselves apart from the masses. That has been upheld over and over again. All I can say is….”C’mon Man! Why don’t we get it”?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


WTC Victims of Attack:

Sgt John Coughlin #3751, ESS4
Sgt Michael Curtin #3256, Ess2
Sgt Rodney Gillis, #1889, ESS8
Sgt Timothy Roy #2926, STED
Det Claude Richards #244, Bomb Squad
Det Joseph Vigiano #4511, ESS3
PO John Dallara #4011, ESS2
PO Vincent Danz #2166, ESS3
PO Jerome Dominguez #10003, ESS3
PO Stephen Driscoll #17482, ESS4
PO Mark Ellis #11441, TD4
PO Robert Fazio #6667, 13 Pct
PO Ronald Kloepfer #22403, ESS7
PO Thomas Langone #14356, ESS10
PO james Leahy #8943, 6 Pct
PO Brian McDonnell #6889, ESS1
PO John Perry #3266, 40 Pct
PO Glen Pettit #3815, PAPO
Moira Smith #10467, 13 Pct
PO Ramon Suarez #12671, TD4
PO Paul Talty #28907, ESS10
PO Santos Valentin #21630, ESS7
PO Walter Weaver #2784, ESS3

Friday, August 07, 2009


(I had to re-post this after reading one individuals report last week...Tip of The Day: Write like you speak, not like people expect you to "cop-ese"!)

The following statements, taken from Detective Supplemental Reports, could easily have been written by Yogi Berra if he was a detective.

They were living domesticatally.
They’re habitating at …
Seeking the location of his whereabouts…
He was of Jamaican assessment.
Seeking to identify his identification.
Identified a pattern of unrelated incidents.
Was wearing a multi-colored white tee shirt Known to congregate by himself.
The eyewitness is blind and did not see anything.
They went into a feet pursuit.
He has numerical arrests on his rap sheet.
The bus driver was working off duty at the time.
The information was received from an anonymous CI.
His sister states that she is not related to her brother.
The suspicious package was examined and determined to be not suspicious.
The unarmed security guard fired two shots at the perp.
All the calls that day happened another day.

Also, does anyone know when the word “conversating” became a recognized word in the English language?

“Truth is knowledge, only verified”.

"A man does not look behind the door unless he has stood there himself."

"If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck... it is a bird of some sort."

Benedict Arnold was always the first one to rise when George Washington walked into the room.

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

"Singularity is almost invariably a clue. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is, the more difficult it is to bring it home."

"I have become convinced there is no one truth, nor two; there are often several truths."

"In the war between falsehood and truth, falsehood often wins the first battle, but truth wins the last."

Thursday, August 06, 2009


To date, the innocence project has freed in excess of 200 individuals from prison based on DNA evidence. These innocent defendants were found guilty of serious felonies such as murder and rape. Furthermore, about twenty percent of them confessed to committing the crime either to the police during an interrogation, or to a judge as a result of a plea bargain with the prosecutor. What causes innocent people to confess to crimes they did not commit?

The simple answer is that, at the time of the confession, many of these suspects believed that it was in their best interest to confess, e.g., escape a death sentence, keep children out of a foster home, etc. However, when evaluating individual cases, a number of specific motivations can be identified. When evaluating the trustworthiness of a confession, the investigator, prosecutor and judge should consider the following motivations for false confessions.

Tangible Gains

When speaking of the value of the polygraph technique, John Reid told the following story. A man from Chicago confessed to a homicide that occurred in California. The man was extradited to the west coast and charged with the killing. At that point he recanted his confession, and explained that he was seeking to escape the cold weather of Illinois. Of course, no one believed him until Reid was able to verify his truthfulness through the polygraph technique. Other examples of tangible gains that may lead to a false confession include seeking shelter, food, medical care, and protection (being hunted by drug lords). These suspects may come forward and confess without any interrogation (the so-called voluntary false confession), or confess after a relatively short and mild interrogation. Once their need has been satisfied, they recant the confession but find that it is much easier to be charged with a crime than having the charges dropped.

Protecting a Loved One

During a New Year's Eve party, a guest was shot in the host's back yard. When the police arrived, the host's teenage son came forward and explained that the guest was arguing with his father so the boy ran into the house, retrieved a shotgun and killed the guest. The boy was charged with first degree murder and obtained an attorney. Once the boy learned that he would be tried as an adult and face life in prison, he recanted his confession and explained that it was his father who actually shot the guest. A polygraph confirmed the boy's statement; the father was interrogated and confessed. We have also experienced the opposite situation, where a parent has confessed to protect a son or daughter who was involved in criminal activity.

Low Intelligence / Youthful Offenders

In the previous New Year's Eve killing, the boy's father told him that because he was a teenager he would not go to prison. It has been suggested that suspects who are young or have a low IQ may fail to understand the severity of consequences they face through their decision to confess. Consider an analogous situation: I believe most adults of average intelligence would pay the IRS a $200 fine even though they contest the alleged error on their tax return; putting an end to the hassle, fear and frustration of dealing with the IRS is worth $200. However, I doubt that the same taxpayer would be willing to spend even a day in jail as punishment for the contested error.

Suspects under the age of 16 who have had little contact with police, or suspects who have an IQ under 65 are statistically abundant in documented false confession cases. Certainly a confession coming from this category of suspect should be carefully scrutinized to make certain that it was obtained in the absence of a promise of leniency and that the confession contains corroborative information that originated from the suspect. When investigators are dealing with these vulnerable suspects, caution should be exercised to make certain the interrogations are not too lengthy, intense or psychologically manipulative.


Many innocent people will confess to a crime if they are subjected to sufficient pain or threats of harm (coercion). This concept is fundamental to common law, and within the judiciary there is zero-tolerance when it comes to coercion. For a confession to be admissible as evidence, it must be obtained without inflicting or threatening to inflict any physical harm to the suspect.

While coercion specifically relates to the suspect's physical well being, there is a related psychological circumstance which may have an even greater impact on false confessions. Consider the following interrogation of an innocent mother in a case involving the death of her infant child.

"Martha, the fact that you can't tell the truth about what you did to your child tells us you're an unfit mother. You know what we do with unfit mothers? We place their children in foster homes. Your children will be placed in foster homes across the country and they will never see each other again and you will never see them. That's what will happen if you don't confess to shaking your child."

When an innocent suspect is convinced that his denials will not prevent a prison sentence, loss of reputation, or loss of something else he values, in an effort to reduce or escape those inevitable consequences, certainly the suspect may be persuaded to confess. Under this circumstance, because the suspect is still under the threat of the consequence, the confession may not be retracted until the suspect feels it is safe to do so.


The average innocent suspect can answer questions and fend off persuasive interrogation techniques for many hours without being tempted, in any way, to confess. However, when the sessions become too lengthy, intense or unbearable, the innocent suspect may confess to terminate the conditions. Duress describes lengthy questioning, as well as deprivation of biological needs such as sleep, warmth or food. Unlike coercion, duress is considered by the courts on a continuum, in which a number of different factors are considered.

A homicide confession obtained after a ten hour interrogation from a mentally competent adult suspect who has waived his Miranda rights may be considered by most courts as legally admissible. However, a burglary confession obtained after a ten hours of interrogation of a 15-year-old suspect who did not have a parent or guardian present may be suppressed, partially as a result of duress. When evaluating the trustworthiness of a confession, it is important to recognize that some suspects are more susceptible to persuasive interrogation techniques.

Mental Illness

Following a heinous crime, it is not uncommon for innocent individuals suffering from mental illness to come forward and confess. Some of them are delusional and receive "messages" to confess. Others have lost touch with reality and believe they committed the crime. Some confess to seek attention or recognition. Most of these cases involve voluntary confessions (obtained in the absence of interrogation) which are readily identified as false because the confession lacks accurate corroboration.

This motivation presents a greater difficulty when the innocent suspect with a mental illness initially maintains his innocence, and confesses after interrogation. Innocent suspects with anxiety disorders are more susceptible to duress than the average population. With some depressive disorders, the individual may rationalize a false confession by convincing themselves that they deserve to be punished for some real or imagined past transgression.

The latter group of suspects are aware that they did not commit the crime at the time of their confession. These suspects were simply vulnerable to interrogation tactics that the mentally healthy suspect can easily resist. Consequently, mental illness and cognitive functioning becomes an important factor when considering duress.

Faulty Memory

Finally, an innocent person may be persuaded to confess if he has no recollection of his activities at the time of the crime but is convinced, after learning of evidence of his guilt, that he must have committed the crime. This is termed a coerced internalized false confession. There is generally a tangible cause for the suspect's memory loss such as intoxication, head trauma, epilepsy or suffering from multiple personality disorder.

Once convinced of their guilt, these suspects may accept this as the truth, plead guilty in court and accept their prison sentence. Through time, therapy or happenstance, this suspect may question his guilt. But, as with the earlier suspect who confessed to obtain a warmer climate, he discovers that it is very difficult to undo a plea bargain.


Just because there are many possible motivations for innocent people to confess does not mean that most confessions are false. To the contrary, the average criminal suspect is more than capable of resisting standard interrogation tactics and a great deal of effort is required to persuade these individuals to tell the truth. But experience and scientific evidence proves that innocent suspects have confessed. Furthermore, each of these false confessions satisfied a particular motivation. Awareness of these motivations should assist investigators in selecting appropriate interrogation techniques for particular suspects and should also assist prosecutors and judges to identify confessions that may not be true.

With the above discussion in mind, the following represents some factors to consider in the assessment of the credibility of a suspect's confession. These issues are certainly not all inclusive, and each case must be evaluated on the "totality of circumstances" surrounding the interrogation and confession, but nevertheless, these are elements that should be given careful consideration:
1. The suspect's condition at the time of the interrogation
a. Physical condition (including drug and/or alcohol intoxication)
b. Mental capacity
c. Psychological condition
2. The suspect's age
3. The suspect's prior experience with law enforcement
4. The suspect's understanding of the language
5. The length of the interrogation
6. The degree of detail provided by the suspect in his confession
7. The extent of corroboration between the confession and the crime
8. The presence of witnesses to the interrogation and confession
9. The suspect's behavior during the interrogation
10. The effort to address the suspect's physical needs
11. The presence of any improper interrogation techniques

excerpts from John E. Reid & Associates

Sunday, August 02, 2009


A term that we (mostly up North)have all heard, and probably used, is certainly one of those that has an uncertain point of origin.

Could the following synopsis have some truth to it?

The story goes like this.

"Back in the day" an officer was permitted to get a haircut while on duty.

After finishing the haircut, the barber would sweep up the loose hair that was now on the floor and put it into a bag. Later, if a supervisor inquired as to why an officer was not on his foot post (occurred more often in cold/inclement weather), or touched an officers shield and felt that it wasn't cold despite frigid weather,
the officer would inform the supervisor that he had been getting a haircut.

The supervisor would then ask the officer to produce his "hairbag" or go to the barber himself and request to see the officers "hairbag."

So long as the cop or the barber produced a hairbag, the cop was ok.

After a while, veteran officers would often carry a bag of hair with them so they could produce it when requested to do so, such as on the times when they were found to be off-post and needed an excuse as to why. Over the years, this policy became less common and only savvy veterans would attempt to pull off the "hairbag" excuse when confronted by a supervisor.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

You don't know me, you just think you do
Written by Kristen Roman

On a recent evening, as I walked with my five-year-old son into the park near our home, I encountered one of our neighbors. I don’t know him that well, but I have seen him in the park many times with his grandchildren, and I’m sure we exchanged names once long ago. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 16 years, having moved here when I began my career as a police officer. Many of my neighbors know that I work for the Madison Police Department, so it was not surprising to me that the neighbor I expected to simply pass by in the park that evening knew I worked in law enforcement.

As my son and I headed toward the play equipment, we passed the neighbor, and he and I nodded and smiled politely. Then he turned and asked me if I’d read a recent news article about two NYPD officers who had been indicted for various and sundry criminal activities. Honestly, I wasn’t paying much attention to the details of the story to which he was referring, because I was distracted by the realization that the only conversation I’d ever had with this neighbor was a variation on the same theme – police misconduct.

I realized that he was not interested in whether I’d read the article or what my thoughts were on the matter. Instead, he just wanted to vent about the police to the police. And to him, I was the police. I decided to give him a few minutes to finish his story and then try to politely move on. I suppose I could’ve responded with my own variation on his theme, such as “Did you hear about that grandfather who abused his granddaughters?”

He is, after all, a grandfather. Trust is essential in human relations, professional or otherwise. We entrust doctors with our physical well-being, clergy with our spiritual growth, teachers with our children, bankers with our money and police officers with our safety. Of course, nearly all societal roles carry with them an authority that can be responsibly applied or abused. When that trust is broken – whether by doctors or teachers, police officers or grandfathers – it is crucial to remember that the acts of a few are not representative of the whole. I am not “the police.”

I am an individual, proud to work in law enforcement and certain that I practice my profession responsibly, honestly, passionately and always with a keen awareness of the trust that has been placed in me by those in my community and by those with whom I serve. As human beings, we all have a responsibility to each other and we should all be held accountable for our behavior, regardless of our profession. Why, then, is the law-enforcement profession so easily criticized, and why do so many citizens believe they know how to do our job better than we do?

Few people think it is their place to tell a doctor, or a carpenter, or a financial adviser how to do his job if they know nothing of what they speak. It is difficult enough to sustain enthusiasm for one’s work when a significant portion of the people encountered did not seek you out and are not pleased you are there. One can deflect only so much second-guessing, and rude commentary – “I pay your salary!” “Why aren’t you out catching real criminals?” “Why didn’t they just shoot him in the leg?” – before it begins to instill a sense of alienation.

A continued absence of support and an “us vs. them” paradigm can breed a type of isolation and disconnect. This, in turn, can create an atmosphere ripe for some people – who got into this profession to make a difference for the better – to take a turn for the worse. Too often, stories printed in newspapers and reported on the six o’clock news perpetuate a mistrust of police.

The mistakes of a few officers are held out as representative of the profession, or, worse, officers who acted justifiably have doubt cast upon them when none is warranted. And as with media coverage when the occasional plane crashes, an objective perspective is lost because no one hears about the thousands of successful flights that occur each day. Law enforcement is a noble profession made up of individual men and women who pilot countless successful “flights” in their careers under the most turbulent conditions.

A single officer shouldn’t be held accountable for every instance of police misconduct any more than a single snowflake should be blamed for a blizzard. It is better to engage meaningfully with officers, avoiding sweeping generalizations and perhaps even offering a simple thank-you. Odds are it is well deserved and long overdue.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Newspaper Headlines That Make You Say...Huh...?

"Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead"

"War Dims Hope For Peace"

"Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge"

"Enfield (London)Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide"

"Cold Wave Linked To Tempatures"

"If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile"

"Man Struck By Lightening: Faces Battery Charge"

"Juvenile Court To Try Shooting Defendant"

Makes you wonder who does the editing at these fine publications...

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Here she is, the USS New
York, made from the
Center !

New York
It was built with 24 tons of
scrap steel from the World Trade
Center .

It is the fifth in a new class of warship -
designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists.
It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft. Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite , LA to cast the ship's bow section.

When it was poured into the molds on Sept 9, 2003, "those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence," recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there.

"It was a spiritual moment for everybody there". Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager said that when the WTC steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the "hair on my neck stood up. It had a big meaning to it for all of us," he said.."They knocked us down. They can't keep us down. We're going to be back."

ship's motto?
'Never Forget'

Monday, June 15, 2009


The new National Law Enforcement Museum is on a mission to acquire artifacts and materials for exhibition and collection in the new facility slated to open in Washington, DC in 2009. The Museum is inviting the U.S. public — and especially the law enforcement community — to help scour the country (and your attic!) to obtain objects, artifacts, documents, images, and oral histories that will tell the story of our nation’s law enforcement history from the 17th century to the present.

The Museum will be located in historic Judiciary Square, just steps away from the U.S. Capitol and directly across the street from the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial.

The Museum portion of the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Fund Web site at has the most updated museum “wish list,” as well as other information about the new Museum. There are artifact donation and artifact loan forms that can be downloaded from the site. Any items taken in by the Museum before the exhibits open will receive the utmost care and will be stored in the Museum’s state-of-the-art archival storage facilities. All items accepted into the collection will be tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

Nothing, however, should be sent to the Museum without first being discussed with the Museum staff, so if you have materials to donate or loan, please contact the Exhibition Coordinator Kimberly Nelson at or fax information to her at (703) 832-0483.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

National Police Week Piece

Cut and paste this if it does not's worth it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


"Two years ago on Sunday March 25th 2007 Moncks Corner Police Department in S. Carolina the Nation lost two of the finest officers ever to serve".

Two years ago today they made the Ultimate Sacrafice saving another. Officers were called to an abduction/domestic, units responded and they were able to get the victim out of the house. The suspect ran at both of them with a pump shotgun, they did get to shoot back but shotgun blasts were too much for both as they took several headshots......
Submitted by Ric

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fraud and Identity Theft During Tax Time

This is the time of year we all are scrambling to collect receipts, bills and other important papers that are needed to file our taxes. It is sometimes a high stress period for some, while others look forward to the day their refund will arrive.
During this time there are those who would use the emotion and stress involved in tax preparation to commit a host of crimes against you, the good tax paying citizen.
“Phishing” is associated with the internet and email services. Phishing is an attempt to get you to divulge personal information about yourself and your finances in the hopes of using that information to steal your identity.
Scammers and con artists can use technology to replicate legitimate looking services. At tax time, the services and /or questionnaires appear to come from Uncle Sam himself…the IRS. These communications seek to lure tax payers into supplying names, social security numbers, credit card information and other personal identification information.
Never respond to emails asking for information relating to refunds. The IRS’s website is the legitimate source for checking on refund status:
When you have completed your return make sure you shred everything. Do not just throw it in the garbage.
If you believe you may be a victim of fraud contact the your Police Department for assistance. You may also contact the Attorney General’s Fraud Help Line at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226). You can also file a complaint online at
Informed and educated consumers can protect themselves from falling prey to these schemes.
And even happens to us!