November, 2014

In this Issue:
   Seasonal Security Messages
   by Barry Thompson
The holiday season is fast approaching, with charity fraud and other scams traditionally reaching a peak during the months of November and December. Consider displaying security messages on the screens at your drive through windows as reminders to your customers to have a happy – and safe – holiday.

Training Programs

Safe Deposit Vault Burglaries,
Floods, Fires & Other Disasters

November 5
by David McGuinn
Damage to a bank's safe deposit vaults caused by a burglary, fire, flooding, tornado or other disaster can create not only major logistical problems, but also potentially huge legal liability. But there are measures your bank can take that can limit its financial exposure to such events. Attend this important two-hour presentation to get key information you can use to mitigate the post-disaster exposure of your safe deposit operations
Branch Audits: What is Going on Out There?
December 10
by Patricia Cashman
You set rules and boundaries for your children. Then they go off to college and chuck all of those restrictions out the door before they even get out of the driveway. Is this the way you feel about your branches? There are well-defined policies and procedures that are designed to assure assets are adequately safeguarded, transactions are properly documented and processed, and branch records are adequately maintained. But you have a suspicion that these policies and procedures have been amended or even disregarded by the branches. Fortunately, there is a way to determine whether your branches are compliant with the vision and rules set out by the parent financial institution - a well crafted and executed branch audit!

There's an old device called "constructive notice" that a particular type of individual likes to use from time to time to try to convince banks that they — the individuals — aren't required to provide their SSNs or other taxpayer ID numbers when opening accounts. Ken supplied a "rebuttal" information sheet that bankers can use to debunk "constructive notice" claims without getting into a discussion. Time has passed and regulations have been revamped (and renumbered), so Ken has been kind enough to bring the rebuttal sheet up to date. You can check it out in the "Newest Tools" section of our Banker BOL Banker Tools page! If you have created an original and helpful tool that you would like to contribute, send an email to

Welcome to the November issue of Security Spotlight
In this month's Security Spotlight, masks, mystery and mayhem ensued during the season of make-believe as crafty criminals hid behind the cloak of disguise. CrimeDex alerts were chock full of counterfeit schemes, and Barry Thompson has a tip for reminding consumers to have a safe holiday season.

Masked Their Identity
Curses, Foiled Again! - In the 80s classic cartoon Masters of the Universe, He-Man's arch-foe Skeletor was always scheming to take over the Castle Grayskull, but his efforts often failed because of his own incompetence. Brendan Millham of Sandwich, MA should have chosen a more competent villain for his bank heists. When the Eastern Bank in Marstons Mills, MA was robbed by a man wearing a skeleton mask and black hooded sweatshirt, brandishing a firearm and ordering everyone to the floor, multiple agencies responded to the holdup alarm. Local detectives investigating the robbery were joined by detectives from nearby Sandwich, who were investigating a similar bank robbery that had occurred in their town on October 3rd. Following a tip that led to Millham's address, the detectives found "Skeletor" in possession and use of heroin and arrested him. They also found a large amount of cash that was taken from the Eastern Bank robbery earlier in the day. Detectives re-established surveillance and subsequently apprehended Kyle Marrs, who also had cash on him from the heist. A search warrant executed at Marrs' apartment recovered the mask, clothing, and loaded handgun used in Eastern Bank job. Millham was charged with Armed Robbery While Masked, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Unlawful Possession of Ammunition, and Possession of a Class A Substance. Marrs was also charged with Armed Robbery While Masked. Both suspects were arraigned and held on $50,000 bail. If convicted, Skeletor (AKA Brendan Millham) will have plenty of time to rest his bones and think about things.

The cloak of religion - Efforts to nab a bank robber in southern New Jersey are being hampered by sensitivity to racial profiling. The suspect believed to be behind at least three bank heists in the region is hiding behind traditional Muslim garb worn by many Islamic women. In his latest heist, the burqa-donned bandit got away on foot after handing the teller at a Beneficial Bank branch in Audobon, NJ a note demanding cash. He dropped the bag of cash and fled empty handed when the dye pack exploded outside the bank. The suspect's choice of a disguise presents a dilemma for tellers, who may be reluctant to report a suspect they might recognize to avoid appearing discriminatory. Likewise, in conducting their search, the local authorities are trying to strike a balance between nabbing the crook while not profiling Muslims who wear burqas in banks.

Check our Bank Robbery page for photos and information on the latest robbery suspects. There are 36 unknown bank bandits featured in our suspects gallery for October.

Most of these bandits concealed their identities with hoods, sunglasses or other coverings. Enforcing a no hats, hoods and sunglasses policy can help reduce the number of bandits who target your bank. Purchase No Hat Cling signs for all of your branches from the Banker Store.

Devils in Disguise

Two volatile villains wanted - The FBI is looking for two nefarious thieves in Halloween masks who made dough-or-death demands at suburban banks in Northeast Pennsylvania. A man wearing a mask similar to one worn by the killer in the movie "Scream" entered a TD Bank branch and held a teller at gunpoint until he got his loot and ran. He is also suspected of robbing the same bank in July.

On September 24th, an armed robber in an old-man mask and gray wig robbed a Wells Fargo bank branch in a suburban region of Philadelphia. That masked bandit fired off a shot during the robbery, but no-one was injured. He got away with an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspect is believed to have robbed the same bank and another Wells Fargo branch in June. Suspects in both of these suburban robberies are considered armed and dangerous. Tipsters should call the FBI with any information related to either of these cases.

Tricked, no treats - A little too early for trick-or-treat, a man entered a Fifth Third Bank supermarket branch in Cincinnati on October 15th wearing a gray skeleton Halloween mask under a navy blue hooded sweatshirt and carrying an open umbrella. The suspect showed the teller a black semi-automatic handgun and demanded money. Placing the stolen cash in his black "treat" bag marked with large white letters, the man fled the scene and has so far eluded capture.

Playing doctor - Some youngsters dress up for Halloween in costumes that reflect what they want to be when they grow up, such as firemen or doctors. A grown-up disguised as a medical professional robbed a Capital One bank in Nesconset wearing a surgical mask, dark clothing and white shoes. Instead of carrying a stethoscope and helping save lives, the masked man claimed to have a gun and threatened the teller's life if she didn't hand over the cash.

Do Not Enter - During this most frightful time of the year, the First Niagara Bank in Syracuse, NY adopts a "no masks" policy in an effort to turn these tricky thieves away at the door. The bank prominently displays signage on the entrance door that reads: "As Halloween approaches keep in mind that Masks are prohibited in the building. Thank you for your understanding."

The family business - Not all disguises are easily identifiable. Widower Scott Catt hid his secret life as a bank robber behind the guise of a dedicated family man. Not only were his two kids closer to him and more trusted than anyone else in the world, they were also his accomplices. Read more about the family man who turned bank robbery into the family business.

Hot Topics from the Bankers' Threads
The publicly accessible threads for Security have been very quiet for the last couple of months as the discussions have been more confidential and appropriately discussed in the Private forums. But there was actually one post November 3rd where a person is seeking out some duties of the security officer and this naturally gravitates also to how big is the bank. Read more and comment here. More of the discussions, for risk management and confidentiality reasons, have moved to the private area where we have a forum for bankers only on security topics, and another that allows law enforcement and regulators access.

We also have a "private" security forum for discussion of more private, sensitive topics. That is where security officers were discussing handling claims where "ladies of the night" steal checks, if the Security Officer is a bank officer, branch design with security in mind, CTR filings, and more!

To comment in Bankers' Threads you must be a registered user. You can register here. If using your bank email account, you will be given access to the private forums. The Private area is a group of forums under the heading "Private - Financial Institution Personnel Only." The Private forums do not include access to Bankers Hotline or Compliance Action, premium content areas that require paid subscriptions to those respective publications.

If you are already registered for the Threads, but don't yet have access to the private forums, using your bank email address send a request for access to Please verify that you do not yet have Private access. Once your registration request is approved, you can access the Private Security forum here.

So much crime, so little time!
This month started off with an alert from a southern California credit union, warning other financial institutions about a member they had kicked to the curb after a “good size loss.” Next, there was a warning from Citibank about deposits of counterfeit Citibank cashier’s checks followed by immediate cash withdrawals. A bank in the Carolinas sent out a warning about accounts being opened with fraudulent checks in the Florence, South Carolina, area. The Postal Inspection Service asked for assistance in locating accounts in the name of a suspect involved in a New Jersey false billing scheme relating to school supplies. An investigator in Oregon sent out a notice asking for information on any other investigations involving his suspects in an alleged residential mortgage loan modification scam.

Counterfeit business checks were the focus of an October 7 alert from a mid-Atlantic credit union. A single business account’s checks had been counterfeited in amounts from $3,500 to $14,200. There were several reports of cloned credit cards. And finally, there seems to be an increase in reported “card cracking” schemes in which gang members use “recruited” debit card holders to deposit bogus checks into their accounts, then use the cards to withdraw cash from those fraudulent deposits. The recruits can be willing or coerced, and may or may not come away with some of the proceeds of the scam. How will your bank handle a claim from a cardholder that both the deposit and the withdrawal(s) were unauthorized?

Are you a BOL CrimeDex subscriber? You could be receiving regional or nationwide alerts about crimes that can warn you of crooks operating in your area or scams that could affect your institution and its customers.

CrimeDex is now FREE to registered members of the Bankers' Threads
Private Security Forum! Get the details and subscribe now!

Throughout the month, we share news related incidents on our Facebook page that can be informative examples for training employees on security issues and more.

October seemed to be a busy month on the Facebook page. Kicking off October, if you're not familiar with a new crime trend known as "jugging," for the sake of your customers' and employees' protection, you'll want to check out the October 2nd post.

Just when you think crime is something that happens to the other guy, the story posted on October 6th caught our attention because it hit close to a BOL team member, and is a reminder that it can happen anywhere. It's also a reminder to protect your employees, customers and bank. With the holidays coming up, now is an excellent time to train on general safety and robbery procedures. You might want to include in that training an example of "why two weeks of vacation/absence is required." Our October 14th post about insider theft shows how that gap can help expose internal "issues." In this story, it appears to be more a case of stealing a little here and a little there, with an increase in cashier's checks tipping off a $5.2 million theft that led to an arrest.

And on October 17th, we shared a story and a follow-up about a bank robbery gone bad after their plan fell apart while two men were robbing a credit union in Phoenix. A fatal outcome, property damage, a carjacking, and a citizen with good intentions were all part of this mayhem.

Keep up with these and other informative topics on our BOL Facebook page. Be sure to "like" the articles so we can continue to post more articles of interest to you!

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