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"...In The Good Old Summertime...": Be Alert For Increased Fraud

Alerts have gone out from several sources warning that summer is traditionally useful for fraudsters to increase activity. Among other opportunities, they may take advantage of the time when top executives are away to send fake invoices, according to the Advertising Standards Authority, which has noted a marked increase in this activity during the summer months. Con artists who perpetrate this scam will even go so far as to send out what appears to be a "second notice" and then follow up with phone calls to check on payment. Many invoices will be for subscriptions or advertising.

Warnings also are out for "guaranteed summer jobs" where a person who has answered an ad will be informed there is a "signing bonus" for accepting the job immediately. The victim, who may have been promised a $500 bonus may then receive a check for $1,000, with instructions to keep the $500 but wire the balance, or convert it to a cashier's check, and send it as instructed in the letter with the check. Of course, the check is bogus - as is the job offer.

Security officers know that branch office staff needs to be alerted to increased robbery attempts in the summer. Often a financial institution will add to staff by hiring part time summer help, who are less experienced in robbery prevention and response. The number of robberies in 2004 increased over the same time in 2003, according to FBI sources.

Part time employees may be more vulnerable to check fraud, accommodating unknown customers and members by splitting checks. FDIC fraud investigators are reporting that fake cashier's checks are getting easier for crooks to produce on personal computers. We have been accustomed to treating cashier's checks almost like cash. If the check is from an out of town bank and cannot be verified immediately, they advise the check should not be cashed, but rather deposited and held.

Copyright © 2004 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 14, No. 3, 7/05

First published on 07/01/2004

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