Theft Crimes That People Are Generally Unaware Of
Interviewer: Any other theft crimes that people are normally unaware of?
Ben Kelsen: Yes I’ve a case actually right now where a gentleman has a very extensive online store and one of his wholesaler’s turns out was using stolen credit cards. So my client was paying a fair wholesale price for various items and then selling them on, let’s say on eBay, and has no idea whatsoever that this wholesaler was using a stolen credit card. So when the police showed up at his house and came in with a warrant to arrest him, he had no idea what they were there for. And they said, ‘this stolen merchandise?’, and he said, ‘what are you talking about? I can show you that I paid for all this merchandise, what are you referring to?’ and that’s a case that’s still on-going but they guy was completely surprised.
We have cases that we talked about before, theft of services. People can be completely surprised by that, you know, ‘I’m really sorry that my check bounced, I apologize, I’m embarrassed, it wasn’t really intended. I didn’t know that my bosses or my clients or my customer’s check was going to bounce. We were going to have this emergency medical bill or whatever it was, but that just wasn’t going to get covered and now I’m trying to get together the money to pay you, and instead of giving me an extra week or two, you ran to the cops and I’m very surprised that I’ve been charged!’ You know things like that. So those do happen.
The Depleted State Of The Economy Has Caused a Rise In Embezzlement Cases
Interviewer: What about the larger theft crimes, do you deal with those? I guess auto thefts or larger grand thefts, or embezzlements. Things like that?
Ben Kelsen: Embezzlement has happened a lot more often. What’s happening is, again, as the economy was having – as we were facing the recession, and people were not able to pay bills, the situation became harder for people to be able to make ends meet. And eventually there’s what they call a trifecta, or a three-pronged test, that people face. They have to be able to justify to themselves, there has to be opportunity, and there has to be a need. So what we’re finding more often is that people who just can’t make ends meet and so – let’s say they work behind the register, or the run the books, so they’re in charge of whatever it may be. A person says, ‘Listen the boss has tens of thousands of dollars come in a week. He’s not going to notice 500 dollars missing this week, and I have to pay the grocery bill’. And so they take 500 dollars with every intention of paying it back at some point. And they’re like, ‘Okay what I need – I’ve got to take some more, I need some more, I need some more’. And that becomes a pattern that they just fall into because they can’t get out of it. In New Jersey, we’ve actually had several cases – more than a few actually – of government officials, or government appointed public officials, who have fallen into similar things where they’re the person in charge.