RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - When it comes to fighting crime, law enforcement agencies don't always act alone. One organization that helps is called The National White Collar Crime Center. It's located here in the Richmond area. You may have never heard of them but you can bet your local police department is aware of The National White Collar Crime Center.
Spokesperson, John Everett says, they're behind the scenes providing training, investigative support and research to law enforcement on the local, state and federal level. "We are that line of defense. We are helping the police get out there and prevent some of these issues and learn how to prosecute some of these individuals," he explains.
Also know as NW3C, it focuses primarily on what's called White Collar Crimes. Things like cyber crimes, financial crimes and ID theft. Enforcement Analyst, Cindy Williamson, took us inside a huge case, called "Operation Checkmate" -- a sophisticated ID theft pick pocketing ring. The crooks used fake IDs and targeted their victim's in restaurants, sporting events, and elevators. "These people were able to walk into big banks and they were charming people. They had great personalities and they were able to make transactions that probably should have been questioned," Williamson explained.
The investigation began back in 2007 and lasted about 18 months. It involved over a dozen states, including Virginia. 19 people were arrested and there was over a million dollars in losses. "They got the top two guys and all the way down. Normally we get the bottom and work up, this time we got the top and worked down," she says.
Crook were tracked using loads of data including, airline tickets, rental car information, telephone records and surveillance video. We asked if the organization had ever seen something this elaborate, this detailed. "I have not and I have been in law enforcement and analytical work for over 20 years. This was the first one that was this big and covered this many states," Williamson explained.
NW3C helped to compile all the information and pin-point patterns the crooks were making, which eventually led to the arrests. The criminals targeted the Average Joe and even high profile people, like Anna Bernanke, wife of Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke. For the agencies involved, it was a relief to catch those responsible. "It meant a lot to them not because Bernanke was involved but it meant a lot because they were able to stop a ring that had just gone up and down the East Coast like wildfire," Williamson says.
With this case over, it's another victory for consumers and with agencies like NW3C working hand in hand with law enforcement, more success stories will likely follow. Membership for The National White Collar Crime Center is free.