Don’t be conned by banking scam

Jul 15th, 2014 | By | Category: ABCs of Fraud

By Bud McGinnis

In this fast-moving high-tech world of today, it’s easy to forget that it hasn’t always been this way.  Communication, travel, work, and concern for the environment are all far removed from conditions known in the early years of the 20th century and before.  Although frauds and scams continue to increase in numbers and complexity, the perpetrators, the con men, have been present in society throughout history.

Communication today is fast, simple and inexpensive.  Just think how easy it is for a fraudster to get his offer out to prospective victims.  No longer is it necessary to write individual letters, address and stamp the envelopes, and then get them into the mail.  Now the same offer can be sent to untold numbers by having a mailing list and pressing the “send” button on your computer’s email program.  Even a very small proportion of acceptances can yield a very fine return.  Certainly, the numbers of fraudsters and scam artists are increasing.  So too is the range of schemes that is being offered to the public.  This means that all honest ordinary citizens must be ever more aware and careful.

The simple old-fashioned telephone is a marvelous instrument for communication, even without all the current add-ons.  It can also be the source of serious problems when not used with care. Consider, for example, what happens when the telephone rings in the home of elderly Mary Blank and the following conversation occurs:

Mary: “Hello.”

Caller: “Good afternoon, this is John Smith calling.  I’m the bank inspector with your bank down in the Mall.  We’ve a problem at the bank and hope to enlist your assistance.”

Mary: “Yes, so what can I do?”

Caller: “Well, we at the bank have reason to believe that one of our tellers is dishonest.  We think she’s removing legitimate bills from withdrawals and replacing them with counterfeit money.  As you know, dishonest employees cost all of us dearly and we’d like to have you help us.”

Mary: “Yes, so what can I do?”

Caller: “The young blonde woman with the ponytail, she usually serves at the third station from the left, is the suspect.”

Mary: “Oh, I can’t believe that she’s dishonest she’s always been so helpful.”

Caller: “Well, she is our suspect and we’d like you to go to her station and withdraw $1,500.  That will provide enough bills that she can make the counterfeit money exchange without it being too noticeable.  If you’ll do that for us you’ll be providing an important service to the bank and also to the community at large.”

Mary: “Yes, we must not allow this type of theft to continue.  I’ll do my part.”

Caller: “Thank you ever so much. We felt we could count on you. Can you meet me in the mall just outside the bank at say 3 this afternoon?  I’ll be standing there holding a black cowboy hat in my right hand.  I’ll take the money to my office, check it over, and replace any counterfeit bills with legal currency.  Then I will return the whole $1,500 to your account before the bank closes.  Does that time suit you?”

Mary: “Yes, that should be okay.  I’ll see you at 3 pm.”

Mary got the money from the young blonde teller with the ponytail and met the man with the black cowboy hat as scheduled at 3 pm.  She then gave her money to the bank inspector who again promised to return the full amount to her account before the bank closed.  Sadly that was the last she saw of either the bank inspector or her money.  Mary had just been robbed of $1,500 in broad daylight.

It’s important to remember that banks never enlist the help of clients when they have an internal problem with dishonest personnel. The same is true of government agencies that may have reason to examine bank operations.  They do not enlist the help of private citizens either.  Should you receive such a call just say “No” and let the Fraud Squad of the Police Service (Phone 613-236-122 Ext 5433) know about it immediately.

The Fraud Squad of the Ottawa Police Service offers many tips to seniors about how to avoid being victimized. Here are two that relate to this incident:  1) Never rush into something involving your money or property.  2) Never turn over large sums of money to anybody, especially a stranger, no matter how promising the deal looks.  Because Mary was honest and community minded, and probably also unaware of these tips, she lost $1,500.  Next month we’ll provide more information on these tips provided by the police.

 If you’re part of a group that wishes to learn more about frauds and scams call 613-564-5555 and leave a message.  A Rotarian will call back to initiate arrangements for a presentation.  All presentations are free and usually last between 40 and 60 minutes.

Leave a Comment