Attorney General, fraud victim glad to see law creating white collar crime registry in Utah signed

Posted at 6:08 PM, Apr 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-10 09:20:32-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- There will soon be a new public registry every Utahn should check before they make a major financial investment: The new white collar crime registry, which was recently signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert.

Vance Ward is a victim to white collar crime, and he told FOX 13 News scams often seem very enticing.

“If it sounds too good to be true it probably is," he said.

That’s the hard lesson he learned after he invested $86,000 with an acquaintance with the promise of a 25 percent return on what proved to be a bogus Utah transportation contract. Ward never saw his money again.

“It kept going on until finally I couldn't reach his phone and tried to call at the number and it would be disconnected and no longer in use,” Ward said.

Ward said the first-of-its-kind white collar crime registry is welcome news. Supporters said it will give the Attorney General’s Office a tool to help combat white collar crime in Utah.

According to the bill, a person can be placed on the registry if they’ve been convicted of second-degree felony securities fraud, theft by deception, fraudulent insurance, mortgage fraud, communications fraud and/or money laundering.

Bill sponsor Mike McKell, R-District 66, described the registry.

“You'll see their photo, you'll see the types of investment schemes, the type of fraud they've committed in the past, and you'll be able to evaluate the investment based on what's available online," he said.

Attorney General Sean Reyes added that part of the problem is that Utahns tend to be trusting. Reyes said it’s OK to trust, but said it’s important to verify things and do the proper research before making a major decision, especially when things sound too good to be true.

“Many of our citizens spend a lot of time before they buy a blender or a toaster doing research online," Reyes said. "We're hoping they'll do the same thing here before they invest their life savings and possibly lose that."

There are some restrictions to the registry. People can be taken off if they pay their restitution, if five years has passed since they completed their sentence, and if they have not re-offended.

The registry is expected to be up and running on the Attorney General’s office website within the next six months to a year.