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May 16, 2022

When sending payments, stop, think, and interrogate the request.

Does it make sense?

Payments may be requested to be sent through:
  • Bank wire transfer
  • Gift cards
  • Automated clearing house (ACH)
  • Checks
  • Digital wallets
  • Virtual currency
  • Debit card
  • Credit card
  • Money service business
  • And more

The payment channel makes no difference, as long as the scammers get the funds fast and go undetected until the funds are received. Pressure to send the funds combined with an emotional factor brought into the transaction will ensure the victim doesn’t question the request, but rather sends the funds to prevent any negative consequences. Once this pressure is felt, that is when stopping to question the situation, fact check, and reach out to trusted sources is vital to determine if red flags are present. Now that the situation is being questioned, what are the next steps?

Most often, talking to close family or friend will confirm something is not right with the request. Banks and law enforcement are very familiar with scams, fraud, and red flags. The hardest barrier for victims to overcome is trusting that others want to help and will provide guidance on next steps. Often, the scammers have threatened victims or coached the victims to lie to those questioning the activity, to rationalize the request. Victims recognizing the coaching and threats by the scammer and are open and honest with others, it will help prevent not only a financial loss, but longer-term emotional barriers that will come because of the overall scam impact.

Victims commonly state that the “person” the funds are being sent to is “someone they know”. It is time to redefine how someone knows someone else. If contact has only ever been electronic, and no fact checking, due diligence, additional information or research has been done, how is an electronic relationship someone you know? Scammers prey on victims’ emotions, connections, and needs. The standard for knowing someone needs to be more than communication through technology when hard earned, sometimes life savings, are involved.

Red flags to question:
  • The request is random, urgent, pressured, threatening
  • A digital banking ID and Password or account number is required by the scammer to facilitate payment
  • The victim is told the payment is for one reason but told to inform the bank the purpose for the transaction is for something else.
  • Payment is for a hospital bill, bail money, rent, etc., but the payment beneficiary is an individual

To protect customer funds and emotional well-being, pause before sending funds to a new source, being open and honest with the bank, friends, family, and/or law enforcement.