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      It could happen to you

      It's an unfortunate situation that nobody wants to find themselves in.

      But these days, it's all too common to be the victim of fraud.

      "We are not a huge metropolitan area, but that doesn't mean that things like this never happen here.You know, I think we all know that they do.There have been times that we've seen counterfeit money," said Ellen Sargent, Manager of the Westwood Mall.

      And she's right.

      Detective Mike Kohler from the Marquette City Police Department says there are about 50 victims of fraud in Michigan daily.

      He says it's only gotten worse as technology has advanced.

      "We've been seeing a little bit of everything. We've been seeing counterfeit bills, or notes. And we've been seeing counterfeit and forged checks.Those things have always been around, but they are happening with more frequency it appears. And with credit card and debit card fraud as well we've also seen an uptick in those," said Kohler.

      In order to help businesses keep themselves protected, and their customers, the Marquette City Police Department teamed up with the Lake Superior Partnership and Range Bank to educate local merchants about the dangers of fraud.

      Detective Kohler says criminals have gotten very clever, using devices called skimmers to swipe the data from your card, stowing it away for later use.

      He also says it seems that more and more often, the criminals are not local.

      "A lot of the times when we see this it's not even happening in our own backyard. Our suspects are abroad. Or they're in another country, Canada. Or they could be states over, California, Texas. We've really seen our suspects in numerous locations," said Kohler.

      Kohler told the merchants that communication among each other, and the police, is the best way to nip the problem in the bud.

      Ellen Sargent said the mall is getting pretty good at keeping their employees in the loop about fraud.

      "Most of the stores do their own training, but we talk, we talk and we try to keep everybody updated on what's happening locally, and that's what's important."

      Detective Kohler talked about how to identify counterfeit bills, as well.

      He said if the bill doesn't have the special ink that changes color in the light, or feels more like regular paper, it may be a good idea to refuse the transaction or ask for a different form of payment.

      And Kohler recommends businesses always ask for I.D. when accepting a credit or debit card.