Detecting Financial Fraud in Galveston

Sgt. Jeremy Kylen ('98) heads the financial crimes division at the Galveston Police Department.
Sgt. Jeremy Kylen ('98) heads the financial crimes division at the Galveston Police Department.

Sgt. Jeremy Kylen is in charge of financial crimes for the Galveston Police Department.

As a detective in the Criminal Investigations Division, Sgt. Kylen spends his days investigating credit card theft and fraud, identity theft and check forgeries for the Gulf Coast city. The cases can be as simple as a daughter who stole a check from her mother to buy something at the store or as highly complex as a credit card operations run by organized crime.

“If it involves money, it’s my case,” said Sgt. Kylen, a ‘98 Sam Houston State University Alumnus. “Most of it is that you have to be able to think. It’s about following the money. With a lot of financial crimes you have to be persistent. With subpoenas and court orders, it’s often ‘Hurry up and wait.’”

Sgt. Kylen has witnessed the many different ways that financial information can be compromised, and he urged everyone to “be vigilant about checking your financial status,” including your bank accounts and credit score reports. He said you would be surprised at the lengths criminals will go to get your money.

Masked thief holding various credit cards and identification items.
Sgt. Kylen said everyone should be vigilant in checking bank accounts and credit scores.
Among the popular schemes he has seen in Galveston are skimming, trash diving and phishing. Skimming is the theft of credit card information where an illegal card reader is inconspicuously placed over a legitimate credit card terminal and information is collected on the account. Trash diving is where thieves rummage through your garbage looking for documents with credit cards or social security numbers. Phishing is a computer based crime where a fake e-mail is sent which appears to come from a financial institution requesting key information for identity theft.

“It’s big business,” said Sgt. Kylen. “The Mafia and terrorists do these financial crimes. They scam many people for $20 to $30, and it adds up at the end of the day.”

Sgt. Kylen has been assigned to Financial Crimes since 2011. He previously served in the Family Services Division, which included crimes by and against children.

“That was a tough assignment,” said Sgt. Kylen. “I saw things people would never want to see, mostly involving little kids and their families. It made me appreciate having a good, stable family.”

Prior to working in Family Services, Sgt. Kylen was a Patrol Sergeant for four years, becoming a Field Training Officer for new recruits. He had only been on the streets for three to four years before earning his first promotion.

Image of credit card with a fish hook in it.
Credit cards are a major target for thieves.
“It made me smarter and more vigilant,” Sgt. Kylen said. “It was fun. I have been in foot chases and car chases. I’m kind of street hardened. I understand how you need to look into things deeper. I have learned there is a broad spectrum of human beings. There are people who don’t care about others and who do whatever they can, and there are others who truly care and help the community.”

Sgt. Kylen was in Galveston for Hurricane Ike, crammed in a hotel room at the St. Luis Resort with four other officers with no running water for five days.

“We showered with baby wipes, and we were eating rations from the National Guard,” Sgt. Kylen recalls. “It was an experience, it was crazy, but it was one of the reasons you become a police officer. Through all our hard work, we have gotten the city back up and running.”

Sgt. Kylen grew up in Missouri City and did an internship at the city’s Police Department during his last semester in school. His college education included a Texas Police Officer Academy Training at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and, after a short stint in loss prevention at Foley’s, he was appointed to a spot on the Missouri City Police Department. He served there for three years before joining Galveston in 2003.

“Growing up in the same city you police is not fun,” said Sgt. Kylen. “It is hard to police people you know.”

Kylen said his time at SHSU helped him to grow up and gave him insight into his future profession. He remembers the professors that taught him about life as a police officer, including Dr. Phillip Lyons and Dr. Doug Moore, a former FBI agent and Navy Seal. He also remembers Ethics Professor Dr. Sam Souryal because it was one of his books that was used in the promotions process.

But while he learned a lot during his time at SHSU, Sgt. Kylen said the streets have been his biggest teacher.

A collection of words, including Crime, Cybercrime, Internet, Information and Theft “There is no amount of schooling that can prepare you for being on the streets,” said Sgt. Kylen. “There is no among of training that can prepare you. If you are looking for a job in law enforcement, realize that it takes commitment and a lifestyle change. It is somewhat like being in the military. You miss birthdays and bachelor parties, and you work on Christmas morning. It takes commitment and you have to stick with it.”

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