The other day, a customer of ours, Jane (not her real name), received a phone call from a person claiming to be a technician with an online technical support company that she does business with occasionally. The person on the other end of the line said that Jane was due a refund of $200 and needed to give him access to her computer and then log into her online banking so that the refund could be processed.
Upon doing so, the technician then proceeded to transfer $2,000 into Jane’s checking account. Seemingly upset, the technician claimed that this had never happened before and asked Jane to send the extra $1800 back to him via Moneygram. Jane joked about how the money was now hers and that she wouldn’t do it. The technician then said that she really should because that would be the honest thing to do. Jane then agreed to send the money back and headed over to Walmart to do so.
While in the Walmart parking lot, Jane asked herself what on earth she thought she was doing. Because of this moment of doubt, Jane went over to her credit union to check on her account.
At the credit union, the teller looked at her account and saw that the technician had actually transferred $2,000 from Jane’s own savings account, not from his company, as he had claimed. Had Jane sent the Moneygram, she would have been out $1,800 of her own money.
This scenario comes as no surprise to Dori Harvel, Manager at Mint Valley Federal Credit Union.
Dori says that con artists like to use MoneyGram and Western Union because they can be cashed anywhere and since the fraudster does NOT hold an account with these places, they collect the money under a false name and the transaction is virtually untraceable. Basically, there is no "paper trail."
For any situation where the customer does not know for sure that the organization they are dealing with is completely trustworthy, Dori recommends doing some research before giving out any bank account or credit/debit card information. Wire transfers and debit cards should generally be avoided as they are a direct link to the customer's bank account and disputing fraudulent charges can be very difficult. Credit cards, on the other hand, have many fraud protections in place, making filing a fraud dispute somewhat easier.
If you have any situation that you suspect may be fraud, Dori recommends speaking with your financial institution. Chances are, they have dealt with a similar scenario before and can tell you if it is fraud or not. Remember the old saying, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," (too good to be true).
2017 Sutinen Consulting