CHARLOTTE (WILX)-- A program that is a "gift" to all involved; the Eaton County Economic Crimes Unit is helping bad check writers avoid criminal prosecution while still getting the money back to retailers this year.
"It's a feeling of being cheated, and it's a feeling of being taken advantage of," said David Simpson, owner of Farm Bureau Insurance in Charlotte.
When Simpson received a bad check he thought he would have to take it to court, spending more money and time that the check was even written out for. But then he got in contact with the ECU.
"We just filled out a few simple forms and they were able to recover the funds for us in a very timely manner," said Simpson.
The crimes unit is a free service that retailers can turn to when they receive bad checks. It investigates the situation without having to go through the court system, and is often able to resolve the issue within 90 days. Head of the crimes unit Kollette Bordeaux, says they receive hundreds of bad checks every month.
"They are very common, but it does depend on the business. I've spoken with numerous merchants in this area and some have told me that it's ten percent, twenty percent of their revenue," said Bordeaux.
It ends up being a win-win situation for both sides.
"It gives me great satisfaction to see people pay back their fees. They and are able to stay out of the criminal justice system and keep their records clean," said Bordeaux.
It may say 'Eaton County Prosecutors Office' on the door, but the services are available for people in Eaton and Ingham county.
"We have been working in close connection with Stuart Dunnings. He's been referring their bad checks over to us as well. So we are constantly growing which is exciting."
The Economic Crimes Unit has returned more than five million dollars to local merchants since it was founded by Eaton County Prosecutor Doug Lloyd back in 2002.
"It's just nice to know that there is someone out there watching out for small businesses in our community," said Simpson.