The Financial Crimes Unit is responsible for the intake, review, and screening of the majority of economic crime complaints and investigations, including, but not limited to, non-sex-based computer crimes, consumer fraud, counterfeit goods and trademark infringement cases, estate and trust fraud, health care fraud, Internet fraud, mortgage and loan modification fraud, money laundering, welfare fraud and embezzlement and identity theft cases.
This Unit, which is comprised of an assistant prosecutor, a detective and a prosecutor’s agent, serves as the principal point-of-contact for all of the local, state and federal agencies that investigate these types of crimes, as well as directly with the victims and financial institutions impacted by those crimes. If after initial intake of an inquiry or a complaint an investigation is deemed to be a “financial crime,” the individuals in the Financial Crimes Unit are responsible for issuing Grand Jury subpoenas, conducting interviews, and analyzing and reviewing financial records and documents associated with a particular investigation – whether it is worked exclusively or jointly with another agency. In most instances, Financial Crimes Unit cases involve a multitude of victims, significant amounts of money, or both, and often require coordination with multiple agencies.
In addition to receiving cases and investigations pre- and post-complaint for review, the Financial Crimes Unit reviews all of the electronic, telephonic and paper complaints referred to the BCPO via the Office of Attorney General (Divisions of Criminal Justice and Consumer Affairs), the Burlington County Office of Consumer Affairs, and the Burlington County Board of Social Services. The Financial Crimes Unit also fields all of the electronic referrals from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is an Internet site sponsored by the FBI and serves as an online clearinghouse for Internet fraud complaints. If a victim, suspect, or witness of such a complaint has any connection to Burlington County, it will be sent to the Financial Crimes Unit.
The Financial Crimes Unit has either taken the lead on, worked jointly with, or is currently working investigations with the following agencies:
Federal Agencies and Entities
- United States Attorney’s Office (Newark and Camden Field Offices)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- United States Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- United States Department of the Treasury
- Department of Homeland Security, Immigrations & Custom Enforcement
- United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)
- United States Department of Agriculture
- United States Secret Service (USSS)
- Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (New York Office)
- Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C)
State and County Agencies
- Burlington County Office of Consumer Affairs
- Burlington County Board of Social Services
- New Jersey Department of the Treasury, Division of Taxation
- New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness
- New Jersey Department of Human Services
- New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Division of Criminal Justice
- New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Division of Consumer Affairs
- New York City Police Department, Financial Crimes Unit
- Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Economic Crimes Unit
- Philadelphia Police Department
- Pennsylvania State Police
SIGNIFICANT CASES DURING 2016
The Bluebird Check Kiting Conspiracy
A two-year investigation by the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit and the Pemberton Township Police Department resulted in the arrests of 18 people who participated in a check-kiting conspiracy that defrauded 12 banks of more than $107,000.
The participants were charged with opening multiple bank accounts for the purpose of depositing checks in order to artificially inflate the balances of the new accounts. The checks that were deposited were drawn off of closed accounts, accounts with insufficient funds, or non-existent accounts. The banks would make a portion of the newly deposited funds available for immediate withdrawal, not knowing these accounts were established to facilitate a fraudulent scheme. This practice is commonly referred to as “check kiting.”
The actual loss totaled $107,563. However, the banks faced an additional exposure, or potential loss, of approximately $247,000.
The investigation began when numerous American Express “Bluebird” checks drawn from an account in the name of one of the defendants began circulating in banks and businesses throughout the county. Bluebird checks, when processed in a valid manner, provide guaranteed payment to the recipient. However, all of these checks were subsequently dishonored.
The investigation resulted in multiple convictions.