Check Fraud: Protecting Your Bank and Its Customers

From http://calendar.bollearningconnect.com/main.php?view=event&eventid=1256146442184

Many of the scams are obvious, but many are presented in such a way that the would-be victim (your customer) is more easily tricked into believing the claims of the fraud artist.

Each presentment of a fraudulent check presents potential problems for 1) the bank of first deposit, 2) the customer presenting the check, and 3) the paying bank. Knowing how to detect and reject bogus checks can protect both your bank and your customers. Knowing how to handle fraudulent checks that make it “under the radar” can save your bank from significant losses.

WHY?
This program is designed to help your bank recognize the signs of fraudulent check activity. Trained bank personnel can help save gullible customers from themselves by preventing the checks from being deposited. Keeping the customer out of trouble means avoiding problems for your bank, too. Responding appropriately when a fraudulent check is presented for payment or has been charged back to your bank can minimize the losses your bank will suffer.

CONTENT
Upon completion of the program participants will understand:

how Regulation CC helps make counterfeit check fraud “profitable”

how common check fraud scams work

how customer behavior can “red flag” a check scam

physical clues of counterfeit checks

the case for check verification

the arguments against verification

fatal errors in check verification

when a hold can be placed, and for how long

the “reasonable cause” exception hold

why holds often aren’t enough

counterfeits and the “midnight deadline”

how to handle late returns

how local clearinghouse rules may affect you

what NOT to tell a depositor about check clearing

what you MUST try to make customers understand

what to do when fraud is suspected

why customer education is your most effective tool

WHO?
The program is designed for teller supervisors and trainers, customer contact personnel, and anyone involved in your fraudulent check stop-loss efforts.

Seven years

Seven years ago this month my husband and I became victims of a counterfeit cashier’s check scam while selling his 1961 Buick Special online. So much has happened in those seven years.

We found that we were not alone, and that this was happening to others.
We started our website Scam Victims United to share our story with others.
We spoke out in the news about this issue.
We have worked with Consumer Protection Agencies to help spread the word about scams.
In the first two years of our site being operational, we helped to stop over 2 million dollars from going into the hands of scammers.

We have come a long way, but we still have so far to go. The Consumer Federation of America released the results of a survey in May 2009 which relates directly to information we at Scam Victims United work to educate people about. They found that fifty-nine percent of the respondents incorrectly believe that when you deposit a check or money order, your bank confirms that it is good before allowing you to withdraw the money. The number goes up to 70 percent among young adults age 18-24, and 71 percent of people with incomes under $25,000 and who did not complete high school. More than 40 percent of those surveyed do not know that they are liable if the checks or money orders they deposit or cash are counterfeit. Fifty-two percent age 18-24 and half of Hispanics incorrectly said the person who gave you the check must pay the bank back. This is precisely the type of information that we at Scam Victims United work to educate people about.

As you can see by the results of this survey, there is a great need for education in the area of banking terminology and the check clearing process. One of the major reasons that counterfeit cashier’s checkscams work so well is that when a bank customer hears the terms “the check is clear” or that it will be “verified in 24 hours” it gives them a false sense of security that the check is legitimate and that they can use the money with no repercussions.

And that is our mission.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com
There is strength in numbers!

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through
http://www.retaggr.com/page/ShawnMosch

REI being used in scam emails

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

REI Statement on “Prize Winning Payout” Scam

Kent, WA – A company falsely identifying itself as REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) recently launched a scam sweepstakes claiming that individuals have won a “Consumer Promotion Drawing.” The company and promotion are not associated with REI in any way and the check included in the mailing is counterfeit.

REI is currently working with the Kent Police Department, the FBI, and the Office of the Washington State Attorney General. REI is also warning consumers in an effort to prevent additional victims of this fraud.

Consumers from several states have reported receiving letters stating that they have won $150,000 but must claim their winnings within 15 days. The mailing also includes a fraudulent check for $3,800 from “Recreational Equipment Inc.” to cover the “Non-Resident Government Tax” allegedly owed to a “British Tax Officer.”

Because the check is fraudulent, consumers themselves are personally responsible for any funds paid over for the check.

REI encourages consumers who have received this letter to contact their local police department and/or state’s Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division. The case number with Kent Police Department is 09-101-84. Consumers are asked to use this information with their local law enforcement as a reference.

Questions and concerns can be forwarded to Fraud@rei.com.

This information is brought to you by http://www.ScamVictimsUnited.com

Why do scammers love Craigslist?

Many websites have become infested with scammers, but Craigslist seems to be one of the places that the scammers really love to hang out. Why is that?

Variety of categories – In the past, when a scammer wanted to find a victim for their overpayment scams they had to go to a website were people were selling items, usually of large value. If they wanted to find a victim for an employment scam, they had to go to a site where people were posting their resumes. If they wanted to find a victim for a romance or dating scam, they would have to go to a dating website. If you wanted to find a victim for renter or roommate scam, you had to go to a site where people were posting housing information. With Craigslist, you can find all of those people in the different categories on the same site.

Includes the entire country – There are other classified ad sites that would have the same variety of categories that Craigslist has, but they are usually for a certain geographic location. If the scammer wants to try and find more victims, they would have to go to another classified ad site that is targeted towards another geographic location. With Craigslist all the scammer has to do is click on a new city and state for their search location and they have a entirely different group of victims to try and bring into their scam.

It’s free – Not only is Craigslist free for people to post or creating listings, but it is also free to people looking at those listings. This works to the scammer’s advantage. If the scammer is the one placing the listing, for a Secret Shopper job for example, they do not have to pay anything to place that advertisement. Many of the sites that require you to pay to post have a lower number of scams posted simply due to the fact that the scammer is there to make money, and not to spend it. It works the other way too . . . if the scammer is the one searching the posted ads for their next victim, they do not have to pay anything to have access to those listings.

Craigslist does have warning information on their site, and I think that some of their warnings should hold true if you are using their site or another classified ad site.

Deal with local buyers and sellers. If you sell your item and you need to have it shipped someplace you are taking a greater risk. If you deal locally, you can arrange to meet the person face to face to exchange money and the item for sale.

Never wire funds to someone you only know via email conversations. Scammers use services like Western Union and MoneyGram in their scams because they know that once the money is wired off and picked up on the other end there is no way to recover the money. Also, since they are overseas, our law enforcement in the United States cannot just go and pick them up for taking your money. It becomes an issue for the government and law enforcement in the country that they live in. This all goes back to jurisdiction, which we talked about in the past, and you can review here.

One thing that I think that Craigslist could add to their posted warning is that a cashier’s check could take 10 business days or more to go through the clearing process. Just because you take the check to the bank and they tell you that it has cleared, or that it will be verified as good in 24 hours does not mean that the bank knows for sure that this check was written on a good account and has the funds in that account to cover the check. This is the information that is missing from so many of the current internet scam warnings, but is also the piece of information that could save so many scam victims. So why don’t the places that post the warnings understand this and include this information? Personally, I feel it is because they are thinking as a “business” and not as a scam victims, and that is one thing that I can do since I have been there myself.

Had we known back in October of 2002 that the check could take up to 10 business days to go through the entire clearing process and that until that happened we would be liable for the entire amount of the check, then there is no way we would have wired any money off any sooner than 10 business days . . . actually, my husband and I had promised each other that what ever amount of time the bank said to wait to be safe we were going to double to be extra safe, so like I said, if they would have been honest with us there is no way we would have become scam victims.

Scam victim arrested – update

Back in August I told you about a scam victim who was arrested, and now I have an update on her case.

Her day in court came, and then the DA first started to read the documents in her file they commented “How could she not know” and “How stupid is she” . . . all while she was sitting just a few feet away. Then, as the DA continued to read their commnets changed to “Wow . . . he is very convincing!”. Too bad they did not appologize for his earlier comments.

When all was said and done the case was dismissed, which is wonderful. She is still struggling to find a job and to recover from the financial loss that she took due to this scam, but she knows that the worst is over.

More on Secret Shopper Scams

For a listing of legitimate Secret Shopper companies, go to http://www.mysteryshop.org/

We have spoken with representatives at both Western Union and Money Gram. Money Gram does NOT use Secret Shoppers as a normal business practice. Western Union does use Secret Shoppers, but the shoppers are NEVER paid by cashier’s check or money order. If you have been contacted to shop Western Union or Money Gram, and it involves you receiving a cashier’s check or money order, IT IS A SCAM.

Often, the email address used by the representative of the company “hiring” you will be coming from a generic email address, and not one associated with that company. For further assurance, search out that company on your own and contact them for verification.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com
There is strength in numbers!

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through
http://www.retaggr.com/page/ShawnMosch

Scam Victim Arrested

What started out as excitement about a new job quickly turned into a financial and emotional roller coaster for one Texas woman.  In July of 2009, Nicole Ball, a stay-at-home mother from Pasadena, Texas was offered a job by someone claiming to be with a company called Formations House processing paperwork for their clients.  Nicole was ecstatic, and in this economy who would not be when they found not only a source of income but a way to do so and continue to stay at home with her young child. 

She began to receive packages in the mail with instructions to process the checks in the package.  She was instructed to keep a portion of the checks, for her payment, and then to forward the rest of the money along with some paperwork on to a man using the name of Stanley Clarkes. 

On July 23rd she entered the bank to bring in another check that she had received, and when she brought them to the teller her whole world turn upside down . . . the bank employees brought her into an office, called the police and pressed charges against her for forgery.  She was devastated.  To add to this, her young daughter was with her at the time and she had to witness her mother being told that the check was a fraud, the job she thought she had was a scam, and that now she was going to be arrested and have to spend time in jail. 

It is cases like this that show how significant the need for Scam Education and Awareness is, not only for the average American, but for bank employees and law enforcement.  With the right questions, not only could the bank employees have seen the warning signs of a scam and warned Nicole, but they would have also realized that she was not the one that needed to be behind bars or prosecuted.  With the right questions or a search warrant, the police could have seen that Nicole was not the one manufacturing these counterfeit checks that were good enough to fool bank employees.  They could have reviewed the information on her computer and in her home to see that she is a victim of this scam and not the perpetrator.

Nicole’s story is far from over.  She will now have to endure court proceedings and pay for legal fees all to prove that she is innocent.  I hope that the law enforcement and government officials in Pasadena, Texas will step in on this matter in order to assist Nicole Ball and her young daughter.   Beyond that we ask for your support and partnership in a Scam Education and Awareness Program in Texas, and across the country so that stories like Nicole’s will not happen to others.

 

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com
There is strength in numbers!

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through
http://www.retaggr.com/page/ShawnMosch