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Security Spotlight: Dummy cameras, serial suspect, fraud alerts, and more!

Welcome to the January Issue of the Security Spotlight

Barry Thompson's Monthly Security Tip

Nonworking Cameras

Court cases have found that a dummy camera or a nonworking camera present a false sense of security to the public. And yet, during our risk assessments, we are regularly asked by financial institutions why they can't use one. Some institutions have even told us that their security vendor recommended them. In those cases, when you ask about the firm you will likely find it's a small company that was started by someone who formerly worked for a national vendor and knows how to repair and install equipment, but has not necessarily been educated on financial institution security. One person even argued with us that the camera had worked at one time several years ago and did not see a problem with leaving it in place. Our advice: add "remove dummy or nonworking cameras immediately" to your list of New Year's Resolutions.

Most Wanted: Serial Bandit

Nothing casual about this criminal...When bank robbers strike more than once, the FBI often uses catchy or descriptive monikers to help keep suspects straight and generate publicity. While khaki pants are often worn as casual dress attire, the FBI is searching for a man who wears khakis and dark-colored clothing, dons stocking caps or a ball cap, and brandishes a handgun – while demanding money from bank tellers. There is nothing casual about the "Khaki bandit," who has been linked to at least 13 bank robberies in rural Northern California communities over the last four years. The subject is described as a white male in his 20s or 30s, approximately 5'8' to six feet tall with a slender build and dark hair. Details of his heists and photos of the suspect are available on the FBI’s Wanted Bank Robbers website. Anyone with information about the suspect should call their local FBI office or submit a tip at A reward of up to $20,000 is being offered by the FBI for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the serial bandit.

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 are generally discussed in one of two forums – the Public Security Forum or the Private Security Forum. Topics of a non-sensitive nature can be posted for discussion here. The public forums were quiet in December as Security officers were busy catching criminals, doing annual reports, and hopefully enjoying some holiday time.

You'll find more security-related discussions covering sensitive topics in our "Private Security Forum," where bankers discuss issues out of public view. There was one discussion in December in the private forum on in-house cash transit. 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. 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

December yielded another "bumper crop" of BOL CrimeDex alerts
Are you using CrimeDex alerts to add to your intelligence concerning fraud, robberies, and other crimes in your area? Have you read through the alerts that hit your mailbox for good "learning opportunities" that you can share with your staff to help them identify scams that crooks might be trying on them and your bank?

During the month, there were 12 reports involving ATM skimmers. Other alerts that caught our eye --

  • A report from a Michigan police department that had arrested three suspects in a counterfeit check ring after one of the trio was apprehended in an attempt to cash a bogus check.
  • An alert from a New Jersey credit union that is investigating a takeover of an account of a South Florida member. An address change was made, followed by the mailing of a new card. Of course, card issuers should recognize a replacement card request following on the heels of an address change as a red flag for ID theft and account takeovers.
  • The U.S. Postal Inspection Service's alert about a suspect allegedly involved in at least two HELOC takeovers.
  • An alert from investigators from the Department of the Interior and the Air Force looking for financial accounts of several individuals and companies in an investigation of a multi-state scheme to defraud small businesses involving over a hundred government contracts.
  • A request from a North Carolina police department seeking help identifying a woman who cashed a check in the "felony lane" of a bank drive-up window and fled when the teller became suspicious of a request to withdraw funds from a savings account. The driver's license and debit card used for identification, and the cashed check had been stolen in an automobile break-in earlier.

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, you can find instructions on how to sign up for CrimeDex alerts as a BOL Group member 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. Our first entry for December wasn't until December 5, but that was not an indication that the bad guys were slowing down for the holidays. It was a busy month, with headlines full of stories on bank robberies, counterfeit cash, embezzlement, and more. Visit our BOL Facebook page to catch up on all the latest news. In case you missed some of the great security-related news last month, here are a few highlights:

  • Our first post of the month on December 5 was about a bank robber who wrote his demand note on a starter check for his account. How the bank knew it was him and more details are in the story.
  • Have you ever taken part in a security exercise where a person runs through the room and then you have to provide a description of them? In the story we posted on December 6, the description of a bank robber indicates "it's a woman, or a man." Check out the details, and consider how your teller staff would have done in this situation.
  • At some point you've probably said, "we have to verify your story just to rule you out. It's SOP." The December 7 post about a man falsely claiming ID theft of $70K – with a police report to back it up – is why it's done.
  • The prospect of a fatal outcome doesn't deter some bank robbers. Which is why our December 8 post highlights why we give them cash and send them out the door.
  • Our December 9 post is an elder abuse story that started when the bank manager picked up on suspicious transactions, and ended with a man going to prison.
  • Looks can be deceiving. On December 13, we posted details about a thief who made herself look like the victim. When your staff has a photo of the real customer, how likely are they to fall for this?
  • Following a bank robbery, descriptions are important...right down to the suspect's shoes. Read the December 14 post to find out how helpful every little detail can be.
  • If you are weighing the pros and cons of having an armed guard in the branch, the December 16 post about another fatal outcome may provide some food for thought.
  • On December 18, we posted another case of why we tell customers "we have to verify your story just to rule you out..." that resulted in $38K in losses.
  • Read about a former banker who embezzled $500k over a four-year period in our December 21 post.
  • And check out more December posts that include the importance of keeping the robbery note, a robbery where bank staff was blindfolded, a teller who refused to read a robbery note because the customer violated the "No Hats, No Hoodies" rule, and robbers using assault rifles and swords.

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 01/03/2018

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