Everyone knows that bad checks are bad news to merchants and honest customers alike. Merchants lose thousands of dollars a year, and customers pay higher prices passed on by merchants to offset their losses.
In the past, merchants trying to get their money back from these criminals had 2 choices: (1) try to sue, which was cumbersome and expensive; (2) report it to the police, which could take months and often resulted in little, if any, justice.
Role of the ECU
Merchants refer bad check cases to the ECU, which reviews the facts and decides if the bad check writer qualifies for a diversion program. Those who qualify must repay the merchant the amount of the bad check and bank fees, plus pay the Unit a separate diversion-programming fee. Some participants will be required to attend an economics crime course. Those who comply will not be formally charged for writing the bad check. It's a win-win situation: merchants get their money back and the bad check writers pay for their own investigation and prosecution.
Formal criminal prosecution will remain an option for the ECU. However, it is reserved for repeat offenders, bad check writers with extensive criminal histories, or those bad check writers who fail to comply with the diversion program.
The ECU is a business approach to business crimes. Participation in the Economic Crimes Unit will benefit all law-abiding citizens as well as help businesses improve their bottom line.