Hot Checks Are Also Considered As A Form Of Theft

Interviewer: What about hot checks? Are those a form of theft?

Zach Peagler: Yeah that can be done too, with people trying to write a check or sign a check that’s not theirs. That happens from time to time with us – and I’m sure it happens a lot out there. And then they also prosecute worthless checks, probably for the same reason. There are people out there writing checks but they don’t have any value to them for instance, and they’re getting a good or a service and not having to actually pay for it. So they prosecute hundreds and hundreds of those cases every week in Jefferson County.

If A Check Bounces the Individual who wrote it can be charged with a Worthless Check

Interviewer: Well what about when someone writes a bad check – like a check ends up bouncing. Could they be charged for a theft charge?

Zach Peagler: Yeah they could charge you with a worthless check. A lot of that just depends on your relationship with who the check was written to, and that type of thing. And there are some businesses that again, like Wal-Mart and those places that just – they have to deal with that stuff on such a large scale that they usually just have a blanket policy that they’re just going to prosecute bad checks. And I’m not saying Wal-Mart does that – I don’t know that for sure – but if you wrote a bad check to your next door neighbor for something, I mean you probably have a better chance of nothing ever coming of it. I’m sure someone’s written a check to a business that’s bounced. The business has tried to contact them, the business has probably written them a letter saying the check bounced, and taken many measures before they actually contact the district attorney’s office and say, ‘hey this is a bad check case’.

White Collar Theft is More Sophisticated than Average Forms of Theft

Interviewer: What are some examples of white-collar theft? That people refer to like that.

Zach Peagler: White-collar theft, is typically just a little bit more sophisticated than your normal shoplifting or something. I mean some examples that come to mind would be laundering money or finding various ways to steal money from your job. If you’re in charge of deposits with your job; stealing money in that way, that’s typically the more white collar. And white collar is usually used to describe a case that’s brought by the federal government instead of the state government. So it may involve theft over state lines – for example, if you had internet access to various bank accounts and were stealing money in that way, that could then be a federal charge.

White Collar Crimes Like Insurance Fraud are Heavily Prosecuted by the Federal Government

Interviewer: What about insurance fraud or something along the lines of mortgage fraud, something like that. Could that end up getting someone in trouble?

Zach Peagler: Those are white collar things, and they’re being prosecuted pretty heavily in Alabama by the federal government – you know with the mortgage crisis in 2007 to 2008. There were a lot of loans that went bad and people started really looking into them. And I think unfortunately for a lot of people who got prosecuted in that way, probably really didn’t have bad intentions for what they did. It was – that was a way of doing business, you know, 6 or 8 years ago. That has totally changed now because of what happened. But there were a lot of mortgage brokers out there for instance, that pre-qualified people for loans – without really digging into their background and their financial history. But the guy down the street was going to do it if you didn’t do it. So it was just the way business was conducted. But when they went back and looked into him and saw that, they didn’t really verify – these people’s incomes and things of that nature – under the law, they could be prosecuted for doing that.

Mortgage Brokers who Pre Qualify People for Loans With Substantially Checking their Background can be Prosecuted

So many loans went bad, and then a lot of them mortgage guys got sucked in or defrauded by real criminals. They kind of helped them in their criminal enterprise – but then I don’t think that those mortgage guys necessarily thought they were participating in some kind of criminal activity. But, you had all kinds of guys that were telling people that they would make the payments on the house if they would just qualify for the loan and it was all – kind of worked for a while, and then when all of those loans went bad and the federal government was out the money from insuring the loans – they were out billions of dollars – they’re going to start looking into it. That stuff hasn’t stopped yet, they’re still prosecuting those cases.

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