July 17, 2018

This month, the Carroll Chamber of Commerce and Carroll Police Department are teaming up to try to educate the public and local businesses about something that can touch anyone — scams.

Sgt. Gary Bellinghausen will lead a “retail fraud” program at 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, at the Carroll Recreation Center theater. The event is free and open to anyone — both Chamber business members, non-Chamber members and members of the public.

Topics discussed at the program will include shoplifting, current scams, forgery, bad checks, counterfeit money, store video and surveillance, quick-change money scams and more.

Chamber employees also will discuss the Chamber’s “call-two warning system,” a call tree that notifies chamber members about bad checks or scams that could affect retailers.

“We’re very excited to have been offered the opportunity to team up with the Carroll Police Department and offer this educational program, ‘Retail Fraud,’ for our Carroll community,” Chamber Program Director Sarah Foley said in a news release.

During the program, attendees will learn to look for warning signs of possible scams — for instance, a bank employee noticing that an elderly person is suddenly sending large amounts of money to someone, Bellinghausen said.

He’ll discuss how to identify phone and computer scams that request a person to transfer funds in some way.

“The IRS won’t call you to say, ‘You have two hours to send me money, or to send me iTunes cards,” Bellinghausen said. “Mid-American won’t call you to say that.”

He’ll share knowledge the police department has attained over the years from dealing with various scams, as well as information passed on from the Iowa Law Enforcement Intelligence Network.

And although some of the program will cover types of fraud specifically targeting retailers, it’s information that would be useful to anyone, Bellinghausen said.

“All crime affects all people — from shoplifting to counterfeit money to forgeries,” he said. “Once it affects businesses, it affects all people, since they recoup money by raising prices. In the end, who pays? The consumer.”

Bellinghausen plans to make the program informal, allowing for a back-and-forth conversation to learn what area retailers or members of the public have encountered.

I want to know what the businesses need from the police department,” he said. “I want to know what the public needs to know from the police department. I just want to open a dialogue.”