Identity Crime is Multi-Jurisdictional
While the first response by law enforcement must be to help victims recover losses or damages by taking a report and helping identify next steps, another important goal includes investigating the crime and making an arrest that leads to a conviction. It is extremely rare that this will all take place within the same local jurisdiction, and so, it is important that local law enforcement participate in coordinated investigative efforts with other government agencies and financial institutions across jurisdiction.
Investigations can be difficult because they may involve jurisdictional issues. For example, the victim may live in one state, but the charge on the victim's account may have originated in another state. Jurisdiction issues can be confusing for law enforcement agencies that are not familiar with identity crime law or do not have departmental procedures for receiving and investigating complaints of identity crime. Many state laws allow jurisdiction to be based on the location of the victim, not just where the criminal act took place.
In light of this, investigators should take the following steps:
- Identify the lead agency within the investigation.
- Determine who within partnering agencies will be the point of contact.
- Set up protocols for working together and sharing information from an early stage.
- Address every lead physically accessible within the initiating jurisdiction including, but not limited to:
- Rapid contact with credit granting agency to obtain official copies of any documents used to open the account (possibly protecting for latent evidence);
- Rapid contact with merchants where property was physically purchased (including gift cards) for video records;
- Rapid contact with online merchants to preserve electronic evidence and obtain computerized ordering data (including the IP address of the purchaser, which can be traced back to an actual phone line with a little effort);
- Surveillance of the delivery location for other deliveries (and coordination with road officers in that patrol zone who actually know the community);
- Immediate coordination with UPS/FedEx to determine if there is an increased frequency of delivery to the suspect’s address and who is receiving property there;
- Coordination with money transmitters for their physical or video evidence.
- Establish a paper trail through legal processes (court order, subpoena, FACTA requests) pointing to a location in the jurisdiction you are requesting to take over the investigation.
- Build rapport by working with a lead agency unit or individual early in the investigation to request local data on subjects, locations, businesses, etc.
- Link other cases in that jurisdiction – this might hold the possibility of increasing clearance rates too.
- Build loss value.