Police unable to arrest check fraudster caught red-handed

A Plano man says he’s certain he caught the person that stole his banking information red-handed. But police say there is nothing they can do because of a common bank perk.

Daniel Munoz is the first to admit that he made a mistake.

“We obviously made a big mistake by leaving our door open,” he explained.

His wife’s car was ransacked. A briefcase, a laptop and a box of checks were all stolen. He called his bank and canceled the checks in question. Plano police also took a report.

A few days later when new fake checks with his banking information started showing up at stores in Dallas, he went there to investigate.

“All the employees did remember because it raised so many red flags,” said Munoz. “It was an out-of-state license with a name that had been added to the checks and the numbers didn't match up.”

What they did match up was the time stamp on the receipts to the time stamp on in-store surveillance video, which showed a woman at the register when the phony checks were passed.

“What she was doing is writing the checks and coming back the next day to return the merchandise for cash versus credit,” explained Munoz.

The woman returning the merchandise was also caught on camera.

Munoz says he thought he had it all: canceled checks, photos, video and a police report. However, police say one thing was missing.

Lieutenant Tony Crawford is the commander of Dallas’ financial investigations unit. He says while the pictures may be clear, so is the law.

“What we have is pictures of a person paying with a check that was stolen,” Crawford said. “He did not suffer a loss because the bank reimbursed him for the amount that was passed on the checks.”

The lieutenant explained without a loss, there is no complaint. Without a complaint, there is no crime. The case of the fraudster caught on camera was suspended.

“We have to wait until we have a complainant -- if the bank or the store wants to complain,” said Crawford. “Other than that, we have to suspend the offense.”

Munoz then took his case to the court of public opinion by blasting the in-store images all over Facebook. They've been shared more than 10,000 times.

While Daniel's detective work might not prosecute his case, it may help to prove the next one if the fraudster strikes again.

Dallas police say it’s rare that a bank would pursue a case like this. In most cases, it is too expensive for the bank, compared to their loss.

Police added it doesn't mean people should stop reporting the cases.

FOX 4 was unable to reach Chase Bank for comment.

As for the original car break-in in Plano, police say too much time passed before the checks started showing up to definitively link the crimes.

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