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Security Spotlight: Elder fraud, violent bandit at large, and more!

Welcome to the September Issue of the Security Spotlight

Barry Thompson's Monthly Security Tip

Elder Fraud Education
As the holiday season draws near, elderly consumers become prime targets for fraudsters. Financial institutions should hold fraud awareness programs for their senior customers during the fall season. Seniors are often amazed at how easily someone can get their personal information. Your education program should show them the basic steps criminals use to obtain their information, and educate them on basic scams like the grandparents' scam, lottery scams, vacation scams and Nigerian fraud. Expect a lot of questions on ID fraud, even if you don't address it directly. While the financial services sector has been dealing with elder fraud for years, many seniors are unaware of scams that target them.

Most Wanted!

Two too many...Any bank robbery, especially one that involves force, violence, or the threat of violence, has a profound effect on bank employees. Facing down the barrel of a suspect's gun once is traumatic enough; coming face-to-face a second time with the same suspect pointing a weapon at you is two too many times. That's why the FBI, in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, is asking for help identifying and locating the individual responsible for two violent bank robberies in Savannah, GA – and offering a combined reward of up to $15,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the dangerous suspect who terrorized bank employees. It began on a Tuesday morning, July 25, at a Wells Fargo Bank branch. A man approached the teller line and demanded cash from two separate tellers, while pointing a handgun with his finger on the trigger at both. Taking the cash, the suspect fled the bank without further incident. Then on August 8, at around the same time as the first heist, at the same Wells Fargo branch, the same man pointed a handgun at the teller. This time he jumped on top of the teller counter while brandishing a second handgun. Once he got his cash, he fled the bank. The suspect is described as a black male, late teens or early 20s, 5'7" to 5'8 tall, slender build, wearing a hat, partial facial cover, and blue latex gloves. Anyone with information regarding these robberies should contact Crime Stoppers Savannah-Chatham at (912) 234-2020, FBI Savannah Office at (912) 790-3100, or FBI Atlanta at (404) 679-9000. While no employees were harmed in either of these incidents, getting this dangerous criminal off the streets – before he strikes a third time – will prevent anyone from getting hurt.

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 embezzlement in churches and how they may be under-reported, 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 coin and currency exchanges by employees (those looking for the old bills and coins), a new site for reporting counterfeit money, large cash withdrawals, building plans, 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

Days and nights are cooling off, but crime remains hot — Kids have gone back to school and the summer heat is waning as August becomes part of the past. But levels of crime -- theft, fraud, counterfeiting, scamming, skimming and all the rest that we've become all too familiar with -- haven't subsided. Subscribers to BOLCrimeDex receive emailed alerts that can be filtered so that they don't overwhelm the user's inbox. The alerts can be requests for help identifying suspects in surveillance photos, warnings about fraud or scams that can help a security officer avoid becoming a victim, or searches for accounts. Subscribers learn about new wrinkles on old scams, new techniques being used to overcome security efforts, individuals to watch out for at new account desks, and so much more! Here is a selection of the alerts that crossed our desk in the last month --

  • A county attorney in Arizona sent an alert with photos of keys taken from a suspect in a forgery case, asking banks to respond if keys like them are used in the bank's safe deposit boxes. This alert also listed a number of suspects and asked whether any bank has either deposit accounts or safe deposit boxes under any of the names.
  • Detectives in the Oklahoma City area posted an alert looking for help identifying individuals involved in a ring that's been using counterfeit bank cards and stolen PINs to withdraw cash at area ATMs.
  • New York state criminal investigators asked for help locating any accounts or contacts with two suspects involved in the counterfeiting of checks.
  • A sheriff's office in the Metro DC area posted photos of two men suspected of using cloned credit cards, believed to be derived from ATM skimming devices.
  • A detective in Wisconsin posted photos in an attempt to identify a suspect who sold 24 counterfeit one-ounce Canadian maple leaf gold coins to an unwitting victim. The suspect had real coins authenticated in a coin shop but swapped them for the counterfeits that he sold the victim for $1,000 per coin.
  • A West-Coast credit union posted a BOLO (be on lookout) for a woman who had opened an account with the CU, then deposited a check that appeared to have been washed and altered. When the CU questioned her about the check, the woman said she'd received it from a client for computer repairs. The woman was tripped up when she couldn't tell the CU investigator how many megabytes are in a gigabyte (1024).
  • A New Jersey credit union posted photos of two suspects who "installed" a deep-insert ATM skimmer on one of its ATMs, and of individuals who made fraudulent withdrawals with cards manufactured using data from the skimmer, asking for help identifying any of the suspects.
  • There were at least six other alerts involving deep-insert ATM skimmers with requests for identity help.
  • Police in the Metro Chicago area requested help from Canada in tracking down fraud suspects in the "Gateway International Lottery, Inc." Victims of the scam are sent a letter purporting to come from London, England, congratulating them for winning a $500,000 lottery prize. There is a phony cashier's check enclosed that the letter claims is deducted from the winnings to cover taxes, insurance, etc., and instructions to call a mobile phone based in Vancouver, BC to start the process of claiming the winnings. The suspect answering the mobile phone instructs the victim to deposit the cashier's check and send funds via wire transfer or Western Union to pay the taxes.
  • The Downer's Grove (IL) Police Department posted an alert about an IRS "delinquent taxes" scam call that victimized a local resident who provided the caller $1300 in Target gift cards.

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. August was a busy month for Security Officers, unfortunately, providing a lot of news for us to share. Visit our BOL Facebook page to catch up on all the latest news. We've highlighted some of the most notable posts from August:

  • With the exponential growth in mobile banking, Security Officers and IT staff will want to review the August 4 post about BankBot mobile malware apps.
  • On August 8, we linked to a story about ATM skimmers that includes an educational video providing tips on checking out ATMs before they are used or serviced.
  • On August 9, we shared a reminder from the Secret Service that counterfeit cash is still a problem and how to detect "funny" money.
  • Also on August 9, there is a post about a female robber who threatened to kill everyone in the bank. She was captured and is facing serious charges.
  • If you plan on robbing a bank, you may want to go where your former father-in-law – a police officer – won't recognize your photo as the suspect in the August 11 post learned the hard way.
  • Are your tellers trained to respond to a demand note that reads, "I have two bullets, AIDS and am ready to die"? Read August 14 post for details about a robbery that started off with that note.
  • An early morning bank robbery in Omaha we posted about on August 15 is a prime example of the importance of an all-clear signal before employees enter the branch.
  • For internal fraud training, read the August 18 post about a bank VP who abused his authority, wrote fictitious loans, and stole $3 million before getting caught.
  • With most Americans distracted by the solar eclipse, a suspect not only robbed a bank but sadly killed two bank employees. We shared the details on August 22, and follow-up posts on August 23 and 25.
  • The story we shared on August 23 is a tribute to effective security training. You will want to read this one, and reflect on the lessons in the story.
  • Sometimes the hardest hits come from trusted members within the institution. As was the case in the August 27 post we share about a loan and compliance officer who stole more than $150k from the bank.
  • The loss of two bank employees during the violent bank robbery in Conway, SC, inspired the article we linked to on August 28, which provides some notable statistics about bank robberies in the U.S.
  • We ended the month on August 29 with a post about two women who used creative disguises that caught bank staff off guard.

Check out these and all our Facebook posts. And check back throughout the month for new 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 09/06/2017

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