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Depository Institution SAR Narrative Analysis

A random sample of 1,745 (11.78%) narratives were analyzed to provide a statistical representation of the total SARs filed by depository institutions. The sample size was chosen to provide a confidence level of 95% with a confidence interval of +/- 3. A total of 2,218 distinct suspicious activities were reported on the sampled SARs.

A total of 796 (35.89%) of the sampled narratives reported ?check fraud.? Specific activities described in those SARs include:

  • Stolen convenience checks endorsed and deposited for illegal gain.
  • Convenience checks counterfeited using computers, scanners, and copiers to create illegal checks.
  • Checking accounts established using stolen identities and convenience checks at account opening. Checks subsequently issued from the account were returned for insufficient funds.
  • Check kiting used in instances where the subject opened two or more accounts using convenience checks to create fraudulent balances.
  • Convenience checks written on closed accounts.

A total of 762 (34.36%) of the sampled narratives reported ?credit card fraud.? Specific activities described in those SARs include:

  • Credit card bust-out schemes in which the subject opened a credit account and quickly reached the credit limit on the card, sometimes using credit card convenience checks for purchases. The subject then paid with a bad convenience check drawn on another account to restore the credit balance and spent the limit before the convenience check was returned again.
  • Subject stole family member?s credit card checks.
  • Stolen credit card checks deposited for illegal financial gain.

A total of 321 (14.47%) of the sampled narratives described other types of fraud:

  • Check fraud and identity theft4 where credit card accounts were established in victim?s names without their knowledge. The fraud was discovered when the victim was contacted for restitution.
  • Misuse of position in which the employee of the financial institution established accounts and deposited credit card convenience checks that were later returned for insufficient funds. When the checks were returned, the employee had deleted any record of the account.
  • New accounts were used for credit card fraud and bust-out schemes. Subjects used the accounts to make large purchases, sometimes with convenience checks.

A total of 272 (12.26%) of the sampled narratives reported ?identity theft.?

  • Children used their parents? identity to establish credit card accounts and subsequently received and used convenience checks issued by credit card companies,
  • Subjects used the identity of deceased persons to establish credit card accounts and subsequently received and used convenience checks issued by credit card companies,
  • Subjects illegally forged endorsements on credit card, convenience and courtesy checks that were stolen through the mail.

A total of 155 (6.99%) of the sampled narratives reported ?BSA/Structuring/Money Laundering? as the suspicious activity:

  • Subjects structured deposits and withdrawals of the convenience, credit card and courtesy checks. As soon as the funds were available, the suspect withdrew the funds, wrote checks, and made purchases. The financial institution sustained financial loss when the convenience checks were later returned for insufficient funds.

4 Identity theft was added in July 2003 and the characterization of suspicious activity ?other? may have been used to report this type of activity until that time.

Excerpted from SAR Activity Review Issue 12, page 8

First published on 10/01/2007

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