The Secret Service: Agents vs. Fraud

Christian Sager

Earlier this week, one of the most popular searched stories on Google was about how Apollo Nida is going to prison for a fraud scheme that stole millions of dollars. I'm unfamiliar with Nida, but apparently his wife is on a popular reality television show and they live in the same city I do. This guy sounds like a real jerk, having already served five years for auto title fraud. But what really caught my attention was who investigated and arrested him.

The U.S. Secret Service spent a year gathering evidence on Nida before moving in. I'll admit ignorance on this; I thought the Secret Service solely provided protection detail for the president and other politicians. It turns out a major part of their mission is to prevent fraud, including something as old-school as Nida's method of stealing identities to get fraudulent auto loans.

Of course, the Federal Bureau of Investigation also prosecutes fraud and identity theft, as does the United States Postal Inspection Service. But the Secret Service "is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the nation's financial infrastructure and payment systems." This mandate is assigned to them as part of Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 3056.

Federal laws passed in the early 1980s gave the Secret Service further authority over access device fraud, computer fraud, and credit and debit card fraud. However, they share authority with other federal law enforcement agencies when it comes to identity crime cases like Nida's. In the 1990s their mission was further developed to give them "concurrent jurisdiction" on cases of financial institution fraud with the U.S. Department of Justice. Then in 2001, when the PATRIOT Act was signed into law, the Secret Service established a network of Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs). Agents are trained specifically for these programs, specializing in computer and electronic crimes.

If you stumbled across this post looking for assistance due to fraud, you can contact your local Secret Service field office. They do however choose investigations at their own discretion on a "case by case basis.