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SALT LAKE CITY -- New numbers are shedding light on the challenge crime victims face in collecting restitution from the people who scammed them.
The statistics, obtained by KSL Newsradio from the Utah Attorney General's Office, show state prosecutors recovered just $6.73 million, or 7.7 percent, of the $87.3 million in restitution ordered this decade.
"It's really difficult in white-collar crime cases to collect money because often they see us coming," Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said.
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Shurtleff says one problem is that collection can become a shell game where crooks funnel stolen money into foreign bank accounts and accounts with different names. The money is also used to buy anything from homes and cars to baseball memorabilia.
"Of course they make every excuse in the world, that they don't have any money, and so we have good folks who find where the money is when we can," Shurtleff said.
Putting the bad guys behind bars can also present a dilemma. "We want to punish these guys by putting them in prison," Shurtleff said. "But once they go to prison and they make fifty cents an hour, it's hard to get restitution back to their victims."
Shurtleff says his prosecutors often fight to exact restitution for longer than judges want to keep criminals on their books. He says auctioning off property is another effective way to recover some money for victims.