Forgery on the Rise

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

A forgery on a check started a fatal chain of events at a Target store Saturday according to Rockford Police. An officer shot and killed 39-year old Jasper Banks when the man reversed his car into the officer dragging him across a parking lot.
Local law enforcement officers say forgery is often a link to violent crimes and always a burden on business owners.
Local law enforcement officers say thanks to advancing technology, forgery is growing and evolving every day across the stateline. It often starts with a theft of a checkbook or credit card and ends in funding other illegal behavior.
"The number of people that are committing forgeries, frauds, unlawful use of credit cards, the numbers are growing and I think it's fair to say that the majority of those people are involved in the use of narcotics and this is one method for them to obtain the money," says Winnebago County Sheriff's Deputy Chief Dominic Iasparo.
Police records show there were 645 forgery cases in Rockford last year, as well as 161 cases of identity theft and 96 of credit card fraud. If the offender can't be tracked down, business owners foot the bill for fraud.
Joe Namoff, owner of Crazy Joe's Best Deal Furniture, says he's lost up to $10,000 in bad checks over the years.
"We see sometimes returned checks, either closed accounts or non-sufficient," says Namoff.
Namoff says he'd rather not accept personal checks, but since a third of his business comes through checks, he has to take them and that means he has to be careful.
"We do have cameras so we do record all transactions for use to identify individuals if we suspect or we come across fraudulent transactions," says Namoff.
Iasparo says to protect ourselves from identity theft, don't give out check and credit card numbers unless you know and trust the source and if a check or credit card is ever stolen from you, report it right away.
The American Bankers Association says nationwide, criminals write $4 billion in fraudulent checks every year.
Meanwhile, Officer Aaron Lesmeister will face a grand jury in about a week. That group will decide if he was justified in killing Jasper Banks. Banks and two associates were allegedly involved in a forgery inside the Target store.


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