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Security Spotlight: Fraud education tip, bank employee turned bandit, and more!

Welcome to the November Issue of the Security Spotlight

Barry Thompson's Monthly Security Tip

'Tis the Season for Fraud
We are approaching the holiday season – the time of year when scams and frauds are most likely to target your account holders. Americans are giving people, and they tend to be even more generous this time of year. Financial institutions often hand out literature to customers with tips on protecting their accounts from various types of fraud. Rather than just placing this information in your lobbies as "take one" items, have your tellers and bank staff personally hand it to consumers who are visiting any area of the bank.

Most Wanted: Sentenced

Gambled on a career change...A man who used to earn his living hiring bank employees has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for terrorizing bank employees at five Chicago-area banks. When Gregor (Greg) Zuercher, 39, left his job as a former talent acquisition manager at Fifth Third Bank in 2014, he decided to become a professional gambler. That career choice led him deep in debt to loan sharks, who assaulted and threatened him. Zuercher returned to banking – as a bank robber – to pay off his gambling debts. His first three bank heists in August 2015 took place in the North Center area of Chicago, earning him the moniker the "North Center Bandit." Zuercher would hand the teller an envelope with a demand note written on it, in most cases requesting 50s and 100s. According to testimony from one of the tellers, the note she received contained a warning that people would die if the teller made a scene or pulled the alarm. Following the release of photos and the offer of a $5,000 reward, Zuercher took a hiatus from robbing banks until June 2016. Armed with more than a dozen tips that came in, teller identification, and ID of the suspect from an acquaintance who recognized him, the FBI arrested Zuercher in August 2016. He pleaded guilty and was recently sentenced to 41 months in prison.

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

Security topics discussed last month included a public post on the contents of the required annual security report. There appears to be a crossover when BSA is involved. If you have a non-sensitive question or topic to share, you can post it for discussion here.

You'll find more security-related discussions covering sensitive 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 confidential topics. The month of October was unusually quiet. If you have a sensitive question you'd like to get input on, post it now in one of the private forums. 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

Fraud from across the nation
BOL CrimeDex continues to provide valuable information that can inform your security efforts and is a great network for information gathering in pursuit of scammers and fraudsters and thieves of every stripe. Here's a sample of the over 400 alerts that hit the network in October —

  • A Portland, Oregon, police detective sought bank account information from CrimeDex subscribers in the Northwest for her investigation into a large-scale fraud scam directed at an elderly area woman.
  • Subscribers in Atlantic Seaboard states received a request for assistance in identifying suspects in three cases involving fraudulent transactions initiated with cloned credit cards.
  • A Virginia police detective directed an alert to CrimeDex users in Texas and Virginia, seeking active checking and credit card accounts for a homicide victim.
  • The FBI's Baltimore Field Office posted an alert for subscribers in New England and Mid-Atlantic states seeking open or closed bank accounts for 14 individuals
  • Two Pennsylvania police departments sought identification assistance for a gang of five individuals who purchased merchandise in one Walmart store using counterfeit currency, and returned the merchandise for cash at another Walmart store.
  • A Tampa, Florida, area sheriff's office investigating an identity theft case (in which a disabled victim's Social Security number appears to have been used to obtain a home mortgage and an auto lease or loan) requested CrimeDex users to "run" the SSN to see if it's connected to any other potentially fraudulent loans.
  • Police in Plantation, Florida, requested information on any accounts in the names of two women suspected of embezzling funds from their employer using wire transfers.
  • A New Jersey county prosecutor's office sought help identifying a suspect who hacked the email account of victims who had been communicating with their attorney concerning a home purchase. The suspect assumed the attorney's identity and convinced the victims to wire $63,000 to a bank account in Atlanta that he controlled.

BOL CrimeDex subscribers use their subscriptions to identify suspects in surveillance images, gather information they can use in prosecuting thieves and scammers, and learn about criminals and scams in their area. They also pick up information they can use in their security 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. Bank robberies, counterfeit cash, embezzlement and more of what keeps you up at night (and gets you out of bed in the morning) hit the headlines in September. We've highlighted some of the most notable posts from October:

  • Our first post of the month on October 3 is the story of a banker who embezzled $566K over a 4-year period using a variety of methods, and how that may cost her 30 years in prison.
  • The "just say no" campaign doesn't apply in banking. Our October 5 post is about a teller who said no to a bank robber – and it worked. The teller may have saved the bank's money, but your staff should be trained not to take that risk.
  • Our October 6 post has a good outcome for the bank but not so good for the bank robber, who was free for 9 minutes and made it 377 feet from the bank.
  • If you think social engineering is obsolete, our October 13 post about the guy who stole $142K is a reminder that the technique is still active.
  • Another post on October 13 highlights the successful use of tracking devices.
  • Individuals who decide to rob a bank without their own getaway car should read what not to do in our October 15 post.
  • If you perform risk assessments on your building, check out our October 16 post and share it with management.
  • With the prevalence of massive data breaches, our October 17 post is a reminder to educate your customers on the pitfalls of using the same password for online banking and entertainment sites.
  • Our October 22 post about a grandpa who robbed a bank and got caught when LEO publicized his picture and a "friend" turned him in for the reward highlights the value of good surveillance photos.
  • Remember when kids used to come into the bank to deposit babysitting or lawn mowing money? These days, they may come in with a gun and rob you. On October 27 we shared the report about teenagers who did just that.

Visit our BOL Facebook page to catch up on more posts from last month and all the latest news. 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 11/01/2017

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