by Brian Mahany
As a prosecutor I always wondered why street thugs would risk years in prison by committing a purse snatching or other low level street crime. I am not suggesting that any robbery isn’t serious but armed with nothing more than a pen, a smart criminal can net far more money and face less jail. Although courts and cops are slowly beginning to pay more attention to identity theft and forgeries, street thugs still get most of the attention.
Unless you happen to be carrying around a wad of cash or keep loads of gold jewelry on your dresser, robbers and burglars don’t stand to gain very much for the risks they take when committing their crimes. Bank accounts, however, often hold the big bonanza. Robbing the bank obviously doesn’t work – almost every bank robber is ultimately caught. Forging the name of a customer, however, carries far less risk and much more potential gain.
Even cops and auditors – the people who are paid by our tax dollars to keep us safe – are in on the action. In Oklahoma City, a state auditor was charged with felony theft after embezzling funds from the state’s unclaimed property fund. All states maintain an unclaimed property fund which is where banks and brokerage firms send money when they can’t find the account holder. The money is held by the state until the account holder or one of their heirs comes forward to claim the lost funds. It is a “lost and found” for bank accounts.
In Oklahoma City, an auditor for the state treasurer’s office figured out how to get money from the account by forging paperwork and claiming to be a relative of the deceased account holder. The auditor, LaTisha Raye Reed, was caught but not before taking tens of thousands of dollars according to law enforcement.
Auditors are hired to check the validity and integrity of financial systems. In this case, if the indictment is true, Ms. Reed used her specialized training to exploit weaknesses in the state’s accounting procedures.
Cases of forgery and embezzlement by auditing professionals are rare but forgery itself happens tens of thousands of times each day. From forged checks to identity theft to even some folks forging names on deeds and selling homes of vacationing families, it happens every day and is getting worse.
Most civil lawyers are trained in enforcing contracts or collections. It takes very special knowledge to find hidden assets and prosecute fraud cases. If you are the victim of any type of white collar crime or forgery, talk to an asset recovery lawyer. They can not only track down missing money but help you get it back as well.
The fraud lawyers at Mahany & Ertl have helped people throughout the United States get back their hard earned money. If you are the victim of any type of fraud – bank fraud, phony tax shelter, forgery, investment scam – contact attorney Brian Mahany at (414) 704-6731 (direct) or by email at All inquiries are confidential.
Mahany & Ertl, LLC – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan & Portland, Maine. Services available in many jurisdictions.