Financial Crimes Investigation Center opens in Tyler

State and local officials cut the ribbon Thursday at the grand opening of the Financial Crimes Investigation Center in Tyler.

TYLER — The new Financial Crimes Intelligence Center, which will work to coordinate law enforcement investigations involving credit card skimmers, has officially opened in Tyler.

The statewide center was created by a bill of the 87th Legislature.

A partnership between the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations and the Smith County District Attorney’s Office will allow the operation of the Financial Crimes Intelligence Center.

“Card skimming at gas pumps is a rapidly growing problem in Texas,” state Rep. Mary Ann Perez, who authored the legislation, said in a statement. “I am humbled to see (the legislation) come together and make a positive impact in our state. Card skimming affects all Texans — chances are you or someone you know has been skimmed at least once.”

Skimmer investigations with law enforcement agencies will be coordinated and assisted by the Financial Crimes Intelligence Center, according to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations.

Center investigation officers will form relationships with financial institutions, credit and debit card issuers, payment card networks and merchants, according to the department. Training on identifying and combating credit card fraud for law enforcement officers and industry also will be developed and provided by the center.

“The Financial Crimes Intelligence Center is a huge step forward in law enforcement for the protection of Texas citizens,” Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman said in a statement. “The Smith County District Attorney’s Office is grateful to TDLR and the Legislature for recognizing the need to stop organized crime and fraud at our gas pumps and payment terminals. This new center will help keep our citizens safe in Smith County and across the state and enable law enforcement to work effectively statewide.”

The regulation of motor fuel metering and quality collection of consumer complaints and merchant reports related to credit card skimmers are all handled by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations.

The Tyler Police Department and Smith County DA’s office have actively investigated and prosecuted people involved in credit card fraud related to gas pump skimmers, according to the department.

Daily operations at the Financial Crimes Intelligence Center will be run by the Smith County DA’s office, and reimbursements for operating expenses will be given to Smith County by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations.

“The FCIC’s sworn investigators are highly experienced, have statewide jurisdiction and can take the investigative lead in any case where that’s appropriate,” said Adam Colby, the center’s chief intelligence coordinator. “We expect the center to be fully operational in late January, but we’re already working cases around the state and assisting law enforcement and private sector investigators around the country.”

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