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Colorado sits atop national fraud statistics

No state in the nation has more occurrences of fraud than Colorado, according to a report released by the federal government last month.

In fact, Colorado Springs ranks third in the country in fraud complaints with 902 per 100,000 residents. Only Greeley, Colorado and Thomasville-Lexington, North Carolina, rank higher among U.S. metro areas.

About 175 miles north of us here in Colorado Springs, there are an increasing number of complaints of fraud being filed in Larimer County. The county seat is Fort Collins.

On a recent day, eight people were arrested in Larimer County on fraud-related charges, including identity theft, forgery and criminal impersonation.

The suspects are charged with stealing mail from people in the rural areas west of Fort Collins and then making purchases using "washed checks" and forged ID cards.

That area of Colorado also has a high number of reports of fraud. Boulder ranks fifth nationally in fraud complaints, while Fort Collins is 13th on the annual report by the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Sentinel Network.

A spokesperson for the Colorado Attorney General's Office says the statistics don't indicate a higher crime rate here, but rather a higher level of education about what might constitute fraud.

"We generally believe the high rate statewide is due to consumer education efforts," the spokesperson said.

The state has held fraud awareness events and regularly encourages people to report suspected cases of ID theft, forgery or other forms of fraud.

Of course, it's important for everyone to remember that just because an accusation has been leveled doesn't mean that the accused is guilty. Too often, people are wrongly accused of crimes when the real problem might lie in bookkeeping errors or disagreements over property.

Source: Rocky Mountain Collegian: "Fort Collins, Boulder at top of list for most reported fraud cases in nation," Jason Pohl, March 19, 2012

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