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Good Samaritan Scam

An elderly customer approached an ATM one evening, and got ready to put her card into the machine when a "gentleman" walked up to her.

He had (this is the customer's description) "...a lovely, sing-song, soft Jamaican accent."

He had money in a bag which he showed to her. He told her he had been robbed and this was all the money he had in the world, and he was afraid of someone stealing it.

As it was late Friday evening, the banks were all closed, and he couldn't get a new account that he could deposit the money into until they opened after the weekend.

He asked her if she would deposit the money into her account to keep it safe for him. He promised her $100 for her trouble.

The customer agreed. They counted out the money together- exactly $2500-and she filled out the deposit information on the envelope.

With him standing beside her, holding the envelope, she put in her PIN and keyed in the deposit.

He put the envelope into the machine, and the customer let the single transaction go through. She said later that she "didn't feel safe taking money OUT of the machine with someone standing so close."

When the ATM card came out, he reached past her and grabbed it, and ran away! He left behind a very puzzled customer.

She was unable to report her card stolen until Tuesday morning. (As luck would have it, it was over the President's Day holiday)

He had, of course, observed her PIN when he was standing beside her while she keyed in the deposit. Using the card, he managed to withdraw up to the limit four times before the institution opened on Tuesday morning.

When the machine was opened, the envelope was found to be full of paper cut to resemble cash. He had switched envelopes while the customer was keying in the transaction.

The bank loss is $1200.

Copyright © 1990 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 1, No. 3, 3/90

First published on 03/01/1990

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