A fraud bureau refers to a special investigative unit dealing with scams and criminals who use deception to obtain money or goods from unsuspecting citizens and businesses. Fraud bureaus commonly exist in government, the insurance industry, and within regional law enforcement agencies. These agencies work to prevent, investigate, and prosecute various types of fraud.
In police departments, the fraud bureau typically handles counterfeit money and check cases. Officers commonly warn the public and business owners when a spate of phony money shows up in the community. If postal authorities report the theft of checks from mail, and they are later copied or altered, the police department might issue advisories to citizens and businesses as a public service. These tactics commonly apply to the theft of credit cards from mail to deter fraudulent use without the owner’s permission or knowledge.
A law enforcement agency fraud bureau usually investigates Internet crime that involves obtaining money under false pretenses. These departments might seek assistance from a government fraud bureau, especially in small police departments where officers lack the technical expertise to investigate large-scale scams. Phishing scams involving multiple fake e-mails purporting to be from financial institutions represent crimes usually investigated by people skilled in technology.
An insurance industry fraud bureau aims to keep insurance premiums affordable by decreasing the number of deceitful claims paid to cheats. In some regions, insurance companies are required by law to report any suspicious claims to law enforcement so criminals are prosecuted. An insurance industry fraud bureau typically receives information on suspicious activity from the public, police, and individual insurance agents.
Insurance fraud might involve arson, theft, or accident. Charlatans might submit false claims or inflate the value of losses or injuries. In some areas, staged vehicle accidents that cheat insurance companies represent a growing problem. Other areas of insurance fraud include collecting claims from several companies, working while collecting disability payments, and reporting a stolen vehicle deceptively.
Social service departments commonly employ a fraud bureau to investigate cases of welfare fraud. These cases might involve payments for children who do not live in the home or for children who are not eligible for social service assistance. People who misrepresent their income or ability to work might be committing unemployment fraud. Social Security and disability fraud define other forms of cheating government agencies.
Internet fraud makes up a large portion of scams perpetuated by swindlers who hope to access personal information. People who work at home often become victims of scammers who find their resumes online. With the popularity of online banking, the number of ruses devised to access bank accounts increased. Many banks and credit card companies invest in fraud bureaus to address these types of crimes.