Spotlight on Recent Scams: Edition Two

Lauren Woods
May 13, 2024

Edition #2: Scammers staying on the phone while customers are doing transactions:

We’ve been seeing customers come in and request a large amount of cash and then the customer takes the cash to a bitcoin ATM, sending a photo of the receipt to the scammer. Here is the gist of how it happens:

A customer gets an email or a phone call. The scammer tells them that their computer was hacked, and they need to provide identifying info like SSN to confirm that they're the right person. The scammer then gains access to our customer’s online banking accounts - how? We aren't entirely sure. Likely some trick that the scammer tells them to let them take over their computer and open their online banking.

The scammer tells the customer (or victim) that the bank is stealing their money and that they can’t trust us, so they instruct the customer to lie to the Bank about why they are taking cash. The victim is instructed to go to the bank to get funds to give to the scammer for “Safe Keeping” since they can't trust the bank. The scammer is staying on the phone with them the entire time to ensure their cooperation. The phone may be on their lap, in their pocket, up to their ear, or in a purse. Since the customer thinks the bank is stealing their money, they think that they can trust the person on the other end of the phone. The customer then does everything that the scammer is telling them to do – including lying to the bank about the reason for the large cash withdrawal and then taking the funds to a bitcoin ATM or buying gift cards.

In Danielle’s words, “We’ve been open for almost 150 years, we wouldn’t still be open if we were stealing customer’s money.”

If you notice that a customer is withdrawing a fair to large amount of cash, they're acting weird, on their phone, have their phone sticking out of their purse - get a manager involved. You could be saving them a significant amount of money by asking questions. Have them bring them into an office and ask a few questions. Some of these below may be helpful & are recommended by fraud prevention experts.

How to start the conversation:

“As your financial institution we have identified techniques and tactics used by fraudsters to steal your money. If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, please consider not following through with the transaction as it is considered high risk and potentially a scam.”

1. Has anyone created a sense of urgency and has instructed you that this transaction HAS to be done today?

2. Have you been told that staff are involved in fraud so you should not tell them why you are making the transaction?

3. Have you been asked to withdraw money and convert it to crypto currency (bitcoin) for any reason?

4. Have you given your online banking information to anyone so they could deposit money or remote deposit a check into your account, and now you need to send funds back?

5. Have you been asked to send money to a new acquaintance or someone you have established a personal relationship with, yet you have never met face-to-face?

Edition #3 to come soon!

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