AZTEC — State investigators will be offering training to local law enforcement next month on the topic of financial crime.
The two-day workshop is being offered by the Securities Division of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department, the state agency tasked with investigating and prosecuting financial crimes. It will be held Aug. 26 and Aug. 27 at the San Juan County Sheriff's Training Offices.
"The key to stopping any financial or investment fraud is early detection, and law enforcement officials deal with complaints of every nature, including financial and investor fraud," department Superintendent Mike Unthank said in a press release.
Financial crimes include both low-level email and Internet-based scams, as well as more complex crimes, such as embezzlement and securities fraud.
Officers will learn about laws and evidence, investigation fundamentals, case management and various financial instruments commonly used to defraud investors, the release states.
Capt. Brice Current of the San Juan County Sheriff's Office said the classes will offer entry-level training for new detectives in the region.
"It lets them know the types of instruments there are, the techniques, the tools they can use and the individuals that they can call," he said.
Current said there has been an increase nationwide in scams perpetuated through email and Facebook. Financial crime involving local companies tends to fluctuate, he said, depending on the economy and a company's vigilance.
"A lot of companies have been bit before and know what to look out for," he said. "So they do audits more efficiently and work more with us."
Current said the recent racketeering case involving BHP Billiton is a good example of that. In late June, two men were accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of diesel fuel from an on-site fueling station at BHP Billiton's mining facility in Farmington.
The company said in a press release following the incident that it has put in place preventive measures to discourage similar incidents from occurring.
"Its all about educating the businesses and the public to get them to work with us," Current said.
Farmington police Detective Sergeant Brandon Lane said that low-level email and Internet-based scams are difficult to prosecute because the attacks typically come from foreign countries.
"People are being duped by these emails and when you get into the case, you are realizing that a lot of them are originating outside the country, which makes prosecution nearly impossible for us," he said.
Complex financial crimes are mostly driven by opportunity and ambition, Lane said.
"If they are that type of person presented with that type of opportunity, they will take it," he said.
The Farmington Police Department has arrested 16 people for embezzlement and 58 people for fraud since 2012, according to department crime analysist Jerry Worrell.
Of that total, four people have been arrested for embezzlement and 10 people have been arrested for fraud in the first half of 2014, he said.