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Bank, Police in Phoenix Suburb Target Fraud

The Arizona Republic

Arrowhead Community Bank and the Glendale, Ariz. Police Department are spotlighting financial crime by creating a joint investigative center whose mission is to crack down on economic crimes ranging from identity theft to money laundering.

Detective Sergei Droban of the department's financial crimes unit has been assigned full time to the Regional Economic Crime Investigations Center, where he will partner with two bank staff members to identify fraud cases and work to bring them to trial.

Police Chief Andrew Kirkland and bank President Arlene Kulzer announced the partnership Monday, saying they hoped it would break up larger financial crime networks and reduce losses suffered by banks, insurance companies and businesses.

 The program will be evaluated in 18 months. If successful, it should lower the number of fraud victims over time and cut the cost of fraud to banks, businesses and consumers.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Arizona led the nation last year in identity-theft cases per capita. It was eighth in per capita financial fraud cases. The FTC reported 528 identity theft cases in Glendale last year, placing it fourth behind Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa.

Tanya Wheeless, president of the Arizona Bankers Association, said the problem is worse than statistics show because not all cases are reported. Financial crimes are a serious problem at all banks, Kulzer said.

Kirkland is inviting other Valley police agencies and banks to join the effort, as well as retailers and insurers.

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