An unpleasant reality of running a business is bad debt received through fraudulent check writers and theft (retail fraud). Both activities directly affect a business’ bottom line. But, there’s an untapped resource in Lenawee County that every business should be informed of: the Lenawee County Prosecutor's Office Economic Recovery Unit.
About the Economic Crimes Unit
Started in 2014, the Economic Crimes Unit (ECU) was developed to assist businesses recover these economic losses. The County has invested in this unmandated program that is free to county businesses. Both businesses and citizens benefit from this program. Businesses receive the money owed to them and citizens avoid criminal penalties by working with the ECU.
The ECU takes a business approach to business crimes. The Economic Crimes Unit has recovered over $250,000 for Lenawee County businesses since its inception. The Economic Crimes Unit works with every type of business in Lenawee County, from a small family business to large corporations. A team consisting of an assistant prosecuting attorney, detective, and an administrative assistant work solely on economic crimes – bad checks, unreturned rental property, retail fraud and jail reimbursement.
How does it work?
If a business has been the victim of an economic crime, the Economic Crimes Unit can help. To start the process, businesses can visit the ECU online. Their web page has many resources and step-by-step guides for recovering lost funds. Businesses can also download or submit a complaint form to the ECU along with supporting paperwork. The ECU will review the facts and decide if the offender qualifies for a diversion program – an alternative to criminal prosecution.
Why it Matters
Without the Economic Recovery Unit, there are limited options available to businesses to recover lost funds due to these economic crimes. Businesses can try to take the offenders to court. It’s expensive, time consuming and even after winning, businesses are last on the list to receive awarded funds – after fines and court costs.
Offenders could also be reported to a police agency. This is very time consuming for both the regular officer and the business. And without the resources available to the Economic Crimes Unit, funds are often unrecovered.
Finally, businesses can hire a private collection agency for fraudulent checks, but are often spending more money chasing after lost funds than what it is worth.
By investing in the ECU, Lenawee County saves money for everyone. As part of the program, the offenders – not tax payer money – pay a fee to cover the cost of the investigation and prosecution. The tax payers save the money spent on court cases and regular police officers investigating fraudulent checks.
An Investment That’s Almost Too Good to Be True
The Economic Crimes Unit continues to help Lenawee County businesses every day. Ask Bill Decker, Jr., owner of Lily Ann Cabinets. The ECU helped Lily Ann Cabinets recover money that they assumed was lost.
“We had some large checks, $20,000 we had basically written off,” said Bill, “He [Lenawee County Prosecutor] collected the money. We received every penny. It was business friendly… almost too good to be true.”
In Lenawee County, companies don’t need to struggle on collections problems. That saved revenue can be invested in more employees and business growth which benefits everyone in our county.
Investing in Justice. Investing in You.
The Economic Crimes Unit is just one of the many ways Lenawee County is investing in justice. To learn more about the Economic Crimes Unit, please visit their web page or call Robert Wendt, Investigator, at 517-264-4642.