Natchez police give retailers tips on avoiding counterfeiting

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 26, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; In a world where high technology sometimes gives criminals an advantage, knowledge is power.

That was the concept behind a seminar Natchez police held Wednesday to educate the managers and owners of local businesses about retail fraud and counterfeiting.

&uot;I’m here to get more details on this bogus money they’ve been passing around,&uot; said Ed Easton of the Zipy No. 1 convenience store, looking through handouts before the meeting.

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The more businesses know about the techniques criminals use to make and pass counterfeit money and check and commit credit card fraud and identity theft, the better protected they are, said Investigator Gary Nations.

Nations, along with Chief Mike Mullins, Investigator Jody Waldrip and members of the department’s investigative team, led about 50 attendees through the seminar, which was held at the Natchez Convention Center.

&uot;How many of you have gotten counterfeit bills?&uot; Nations asked as several hands shot up across the room. &uot;If you use what we’ll teach you here today, you’ll eliminate 99.9 percent of that problem.&uot;

Among other things, those attending the seminar were shown diagrams of paper money that detailed how to spot counterfeits.

Much of the rest of the seminar was closed to the public &045; since the information could also better equip the criminals themselves.

What is known is the impact financial crimes have had on the Miss-Lou in recent and years.

While exact figures weren’t available as of Wednesday, in the last several months, instances of credit card fraud have shown up in Natchez police reports almost every day, and counterfeit bills and checks nearly every week.

&uot;It’s almost to the point of becoming epidemic,&uot; Nations said.

Just in the last few months, a New Orleans man was arrested by federal authorities on charges of identity theft &045; several of which happened in the Natchez area, Nations said.

What’s behind this nationwide trend? &uot;Technology,&uot; said Lt. Jody Waldrip of the Natchez Police Department. &uot;Computers, the Internet, different types of software all help the criminal.&uot;

What hurts the owners of stores the most is a lack of knowledge, &uot;and that’s what we’re trying to fix today,&uot; Nations said.