Metro police’s fraud unit investigates thousands of complaints each year

Sgt. Michael Warren (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Inside Metro Nashville Police Department’s Fraud Unit, detectives do their best to find criminals who could be anywhere in the world.

The most common types of fraud cases they investigate include cases of phone or Internet scams.

“The suspects in fraud may never even step foot in this country, nevertheless Davidson County,” Sergeant Michael Warren said. “People are victims of a crime, they have been wronged and they have suffered damages. But it makes an investigation difficult when there is no likely prosecution because the suspect is nowhere in our grasp.”

Sgt. Warren joined MNPD 10 years ago and has spent the past three years in the fraud unit.

Some of the crimes his team investigates include credit card fraud, extortion, identity thefts and impersonation.

“For a scam to hook a person, it needs one of two things – urgency or fear,” Sgt. Warren explained. “If you can install either of those in the victim you are likely to hook the victim.”

He continued, “When you install urgency or fear it can shutdown common sense.”

Photo: WKRN

The fraud unit takes about 100 to 150 fraud reports a week. The majority of the cases go unsolved because of the borderless reach scammers have via the Internet.

The cases with the best chance of prosecution include local scams like construction scams, fraud involving skimmers and scammers who target the elderly in person.

“Scam artists don’t wake up and say, ‘I want to become a scam artist,’” Sgt. Warren said. “This is what they do as their trade.”

He continued, “I have people call all the time and they say I am so stupid. I correct them. You are not stupid. You are not dumb. The bad guy is good.”

Sgt. Warren said prevention is more powerful than prosecution.

“These guys have no conscience,” he said. “Monitor your credit card statements, actually open them. Monitor those alerts if you have them if your bank offers alerts.”

Going into the spring and summer, Warren said vacation rental, home improvement and concert ticket scams increase in number.

But all year long phone scams using the IRS, U.S. Marshals Office or claims about missed jury duty are prevalent.

Sgt. Warren said the best thing to do is hang up and never give out personal information over the phone.

MNPD’s fraud unit has more information on security measures and ways to avoid becoming a victim on its website.