November 15, 2018

Retiring: Helping Banks Flag Fraud Against Seniors

“Then the buyer calls and says, ‘I paid too much, send me back $100, or $400,’” Ms. Sykes said. “They try to get the customer’s banking information that way.” Wiring money can be another way to obtain a person’s account information.

The bank, on California’s affluent central coast, also has seen a major uptick in check fraud, with more than five times as many fraudulent check cases reported so far in 2018, compared with the same period of 2014, she said.

“It’s been a heartbreaking year,” she said.

As they see more fraud directed at older customers, banks are stepping up their warnings, monitoring and education efforts. First Financial Bank in Abilene, Tex., for example, certifies its employees as “fraud busters” after they are trained to recognize potentially fraudulent actions.

More active steps, including the education of customers, are likely to spread under the Senior Safe Act, as banks tackle the reluctance that many older people have to report fraud. Noel A. DeSantis, an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia who specializes in financial crimes against seniors, said older people can be ashamed and afraid to admit they are victims.

Ms. DeSantis prosecuted one case in which an 87-year-old Philadelphia woman suddenly withdrew $600, which was most of her savings, from her bank branch. Accompanying her at the bank was a younger woman whom the teller did not recognize.

“The teller knew the account holder and was concerned she wasn’t acting normally, but she said she wanted the money. So he had to give it to her,” Ms. DeSantis said. The teller alerted the bank manager, who preserved the video of the transaction.

Later, when the customer reported the episode to the police, the video was used as evidence to convict the woman who accompanied her.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/18/business/banks-financial-fraud-seniors.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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