The FBI officially opened a new telephone hotline in the District of Columbia yesterday as part of its effort to crack down on white-collar crime in the city.
The tipsters' hotline, 252-7777, is open to the public 24 hours a day and staffed by agents from the bureau's white-collr crime unit.
Charles R. McKinnon, head of the FBI's Washington field office, said the hotline is the FBI's attempt to solicit public help in stopping various white-collar scams in Washington.
Tipsters can call in information anonymously or make arrangements to work privately with FBI agents, he said. Agents speaking a variety of languages, including Chinese, Spanish, French and German, will be a available. Special attention will be given to tipsters providing information about possible public corruption, such as government employes misusing public funds or government officials accepting payoffs or favors to award contracts.
"The FBI hopes citizens will not hesitate to call their FBI," McKinnon said. "We consider it a strong likelihood that in our nation, many billions of dollars are being bilked or swindled from ordinary people and taxpayers every year by corrupt people."
In 1979, the FBI investigations led to 3,268 convictions for white-collar crimes involving $1.1 billion. In the last two years, public corruption cases uncovered by the bureau nationwide have jumped from 574 to 1,185, McKinnon said.
No reward system has yet been established for hotline information resulting in convictions, McKinnon said, but the idea is being considered.
The D.C. hotline is the seventh the FBI has started. The first line opened in Chicago two years ago. Since then the lines have been added in New York, Philadelphia, Louisville, Detroit and Jacksonville.