Eyewitness News Investigates: Identity Theft

Eyewitness News Investigates: Identity Theft

Identity Theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, but local police departments are forced to cut from that department because of smaller budgets. CBS47's Zara Arboleda investigates.
Identity Theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, but local police departments are forced to cut from that department because of smaller budgets.

LynnDee Owens says someone withdrew money from a Bank of America ATM in Fresno's Fig Garden area, for a loss of more than $3,000. She reported the problem on June 2nd. In a letter dated the next day, Bof A informed Owens that it found no problems with her account, considered the case closed and wouldn't be replacing the stolen funds. When Owens went to report the problem to the Fresno Police Department's Financial Crimes Unit, she was surprised to hear a recording that told callers, in part, "Unfortunately, we have had a 50% reduction in personnel during the past few months. We may not be able to return your call as rapidly as you would like. However, we will call you back."

CBS47's Zara Arboleda spoke with Sgt. Sherree Flores. She took over the department in 2007. At her peak staffing level in 2011, she had 11 detectives assigned to handle financial crimes and elder abuse (which her unit also handles). Today, she has seven. She says the budget is just not there right now to add detectives. They're going to other divisions. Also, when arrests are made, the suspects are usually let out of jail quickly because of overcrowding. The hotline number Owens called is monitored, but it may take up to a week for someone to return a call.

Sgt. Flores is looking to Owens' case, and plans to request surveillance video of the time the questionable withdrawals were made. A Bank of America spokesperson tells Eyewitness News: "Given this is an active police investigation, we are limited as to what we can make public. We defer to local law enforcement to release to the media and the public any information they deem fit to support the investigation."

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