The legend goes that Abe Lincoln’s last act as President of the United States was to unknowingly start an agency that would eventually protect Presidents from the fate he would suffer later that evening. On the morning of April 15, 1865, Lincoln met with the secretary of the treasury to sign an executive order recruiting operatives to clamp down on counterfeiting, which was running rampant throughout the country. Then he took an afternoon nap before an evening at Ford’s Theater, where he would meet his tragic destiny.

The Secret Service Agency, which operates under the federal treasury department, didn’t actually protect presidents until the assassination of William McKinley in 1902. But even then that charge was on a year-to-year basis and depended upon how much money was in federal coffers. It didn’t become a permanent role for the agency until 1950, after an assassination attempt on Harry S. Truman.

Peter Cavicchia reports that the modern Secret Service is almost as interested in forgery of government checks and bonds, credit card fraud, bank fraud and embezzlement, telecommunications fraud, and computer hacking as it is in protecting the Commander in Chief. He is a presenter at Mike Pappas’ Central Jersey Entrepreneur Day on Saturday, September 20 (see above article for details), and gives a brief talk on How to Protect Your Small Business.

Cavicchia, a 27-year Secret Service veteran who oversees 13 northern counties in this state, including the regional office at 101 Carnegie Center, head by Tom DePiano, explains that while the agency’s primary duty is to protect the President and Vice President and their families, financial crimes of the modern age do their part to keep the agency busy. There are people who make counterfeit commercial checks because of the advent of desktop publishing, he says. And businesses, whether they’re large or small, have been taking serious losses because of this type of fraud,

Other frauds du jour include cellular phone cloning, false identification, and credit card theft the biggie. We explain how businesses can protect themselves to see if they were the ones who made the charges, says Cavicchia. In a lot of businesses the bookkeeper pays the bills and doesn’t investigate to see who actually made the charges. Another major scam: Having the victim’s credit card bills sent to another address. Meanwhile they’re compromising your billing statement and you don’t see the statement until the card bounces, he says.

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