Investigation into hunting license fraud results in over $85,000 in fines, restitution

FILE - In this Dec. 1, 2014, file photo, a pair of deer move along the edge of the woods during the first day of Pennsylvania's white-tailed deer hunting season in Zelienople, Pa. A tough winter across the northern states killed off many deer, and wildlife regulators in many states are implementing or considering deep cuts to hunting permits. In Pennsylvania, wildlife officials are reducing the number of hunting permits for antlerless deer in 2015 by 30,000, or about 4 percent, following a 7-percent reduction the previous year. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 1, 2014, file photo, a pair of deer move along the edge of the woods during the first day of Pennsylvania's white-tailed deer hunting season in Zelienople, Pa. A tough winter across the northern states killed off many deer, and wildlife regulators in many states are implementing or considering deep cuts to hunting permits. In Pennsylvania, wildlife officials are reducing the number of hunting permits for antlerless deer in 2015 by 30,000, or about 4 percent, following a 7-percent reduction the previous year. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A concerted effort between Indiana and Illinois law enforcement has uncovered more than 250 cases of hunting license/permit fraud.

The investigation, called Operation Double Dip, was conducted by Indiana Conservation Officers and Illinois Conservation Police, and spanned cases from the beginning of 2015 into 2016, resulting in more than $85,000 in fines and restitution so far. In many cases, those involved had been defrauding the states for several years.

Indiana DNR Law Enforcement Division Director Col. Danny East said, “The cooperative efforts of both Indiana and Illinois law enforcement divisions were vital to the success of this case.”

“Operation Double Dip was started to investigate individuals who claim residency in Illinois and Indiana in order to purchase hunting licenses/deer permits at the cheaper resident rate,” said Sgt. David Hyatt, of Illinois Conservation Police.

Hyatt continued, explaining that keeping people from taking advantage of the residency discount “protects the privileges of our legitimate resident hunters and ensures that each state receives the funding needed for Fish and Wildlife projects.”

The Illinois Attorney General’s office and the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s office have already tried 211 counts of permit/license fraud, resulting in a 100 percent conviction rate, totaling over $65,000 in restitution and fines to be paid by defendants, as well as a total of 21 years of revoked hunting privileges.

In Indiana, 57 defendants have been identified, with more than $20,000 ordered in restitution and the majority of cases not yet settled. So far Indiana cases have resulted in 12 years of hunting privileges revoked.

“Conservation Law Enforcement is an important component in the protection and continual improvement of our state’s natural resources,” said East.

Both Indiana and Illinois law prohibit anyone from claiming residency in more than one state in order to purchase resident hunting or fishing licenses.