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Security Spotlight: Night inspections, cop shooter caught, dog days of fraud, and more!

Welcome to the August Issue of the Security Spotlight

Barry Thompson's Monthly Security Tip

Night Inspections
We have long advocated that financial institutions perform night inspections to protect themselves. The question most often asked is whether to retain an outside person to conduct the risk assessment.

Yes, we would institute a yearly or bi-annual program where someone other than the branch managers or facilities management reviews your facilities. This would let managers completing the monthly reports know that someone else will be reviewing their work at some unknown time. Secondly, it gives your financial institution a fresh set of eyes reviewing your facilities. Other than an outside specialist, we recommend using an off-duty law enforcement officer or a security officer from another institution. You might make an agreement to exchange this service with another security officer where you review their facilities and they review yours at no charge.

Most Wanted: Captured!

Shot a cop - caught by a cop...More than five years ago, Chino, California, police officer Mike Ford was shot during a bank heist in February 2012. The suspect got away, and a search ensued for more than five years for the suspect who was linked to seven bank robberies. Five-and-a-half years later, the man dubbed the AK-47 bandit because of the rifle he carried and body armor he wore during his heists, has been caught – by a police officer. Richard Lee Gathercole, 39, of Montana, was arrested June 20 after getting into a gun battle with a Kansas State trooper following a traffic stop while driving a stolen truck. After being taken to jail, Gathercole called his mother on a recorded phone line from the jail and told her to get rid of all the guns in the house, leading authorities to search his Montana home. In addition to explosive devices, investigators found evidence identifying Gathercole as the AK-47 bandit. A $100,000 reward had been offered for the arrest and conviction of the suspect but the state trooper won't get to reap those rewards since law enforcement officers are not eligible to receive reward money. The statute of limitations has run out on pursuing charges related to one of the bank jobs, but Gathercole will face charges of attempted murder of a police officer with a weapon. If convicted, he could face 40 years to life in prison. Police officer Ford recovered from his injuries and returned to full duty several months after being shot.

Check our Bank Robbery page for photos and information on the latest unknown bank bandits, many of them with sunglasses, hats or other head and facial coverings disguising their identity. 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.

Hot Topics from the Bankers Forums

Other than one post about an Information Security Officer, security topics last month were limited to the private security forums. If you have a non-sensitive question or topic to share, you can post it for discussion here. You'll find active discussions on sensitive security topics in our "Private Security Forum," where bankers discuss issues out of public view. There's also a private forum that invites participation by bankers, regulators and members of law enforcement.

The private forums are the place for security officers to discuss topics like frequency of changing online banking passwords, cash delivery, educating customers about skimming, cleaning service requirements, and more. If you're a registered user of BOL's Discussion Forums, but don't see the Private - Financial Institution Personnel Only forums near the top of the Forums list, use your bank email address to send an access request to Once your request is approved, you can access the Private Security forum here.

CrimeDex Alerts

Who said that crime doesn't pay? — Whoever came up with the ancient aphorism that "crime doesn't pay" must have had the longer view in mind. Our collection of BOL CrimeDex emails is convincing evidence that scammers, robbers, thieves and assorted other criminals find it lucrative enough in the short run to risk incarceration or worse, whether driven by greed or desperation.

In this month's email from CrimeDex, we read about:

  • an 84-year-old victim of an elder scam who, convinced her granddaughter had been jailed, bought and delivered to the scammers $15,000 in Target gift cards, which the suspects converted into iTunes and Steam gift cards.
  • A call center for a Connecticut bank that was socially-engineered by fraudsters who then took over legitimate customer accounts. Funds were withdrawn from the accounts at California ATMs (often in Walmart) or spent at "big box" stores via POS.
  • A search by the U.S. Secret Service for bank accounts or safe deposit accounts held by suspects in a wire fraud investigation.
  • A similar inquiry from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service searching for accounts of persons suspected of mail theft and "synthetic identity" fraud.
  • A 30-year-old Connecticut native currently homeless, but with ties to North Carolina, who has been cashing forged checks in the Carolinas and Georgia.
  • An attempt in a "felony lane" at a Florida credit union to cash three checks using stolen identification, during which the alert teller refused the transaction because the IDs didn't look like the driver of the vehicle, and retained the checks and IDs as the vehicle was driven away. The payee of the checks and owner of the stolen IDs was a burglary victim earlier this year.
  • An alert about a District of Columbia resident victimized by a loan modification scam using an Irvine, California, address.
  • A Louisiana parish sheriff who headed up his alert with huge red headlines, "SCAM, FRAUD, RIP-OFF," to warn about "U Travel Guide," alleged to have issued an unauthorized remotely-created check against a victim's bank account.

In addition to the invaluable assistance that BOL CrimeDex alerts can provide in identifying criminal suspects are the scores of examples of behavioral "red flags" that a security officer can use to drive home the security message to staff members in training sessions. If you have access to our private forums, read the "CrimeDex Service FREE" notice in the second thread of the "Private - FI Personnel Only" forum.

Facebook Blog

Throughout the month, we share news-related incidents on Facebook that can be informative examples for training employees on security issues and more. We see a lot of bankers adding comments so @YourFriendsNameHere will see posts of interest. So, share our page with your fellow Security Officers and bankers, so they can "Like" us and stay updated on the latest news, as well. With summer vacations in full swing, activity in the security world is increasing as bank robbers look to heists to fund their fun. If you missed out on the great news in July, you can still catch up on these posts:

  • The day before America celebrated Independence Day, the small Texas town of Bastrop was robbed. We shared the details and photos on July 6, which highlight how some unexpected factors that came into play affected the ability to obtain clear surveillance photos.
  • A second post on July 6 links to an article on how the police used DNA to nab a robber.
  • Our July 11 post is about the indictment of the AK-47 Bandit featured in our Most Wanted section.
  • Also on that day is a post about an "attempted" bank robbery that involved gun shots and a scuffle.
  • On July 13, we shared another bank robbery event that included a hostage situation and a BB gun.
  • If you haven't heard the one about the man trapped inside the ATM, check out the July 14 post, and find out how he got out.
  • Bank employees stealing from banks also made the news on July 14. In this case, $215K was taken before the banker was stopped.
  • Skimmers are thriving, and the continued use of mag stripe readers rather than chip technology, such as at gas stations, presents even greater risk. Read how skimmers are evolving at gas pumps and ATMs in our July 16 post.
  • Our July 17 post is about a bank robber who left his gun behind. When they catch up to him, will the police believe he is unarmed?
  • As for the bank employee who stole $215K, that's nothing when you can embezzle $810K. Get the details on that big score from our July 19 post.
  • And embezzling $500K isn't chump change either. Or so thought the woman in from our July 20 post who pleaded guilty.
  • As our July 21 story highlights, bank embezzlement doesn't always involve a banker. Theft by an armored car employee also qualifies as bank theft.
  • And, there was more on embezzlement shared on July 21 with a case in Vicksburg, MS, that does not look like a good ending for the bank. The punishment doesn't quite fit the crime.
  • A third story shared that day is about cameras, placement, and obstacles involved in a St. Louis bank robbery. We hope there is enough to lead police to an arrest.
  • In Chicagoland, cameras captured good photos that will hopefully lead to an arrest of a man suspected of robbing four banks in eight months.
  • And, we ended the month with two more embezzlement stories on July 26. One case involved $200K in losses from mostly cashier's checks, and the other story involved an employee who was "kind enough" to assist elderly customers with their account balancing and such, helping themselves to $500K in the process.

Read about these and other informative topics on our BOL Facebook page. Check out the page throughout the month for the latest posts. Be sure to "Like" the articles so we can continue to post more articles of interest to you, and share our page with your fellow Security Officers and bankers, and ask them to "Like" us so they, too, can keep current on the latest news!

First published on 08/02/2017

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