Recent Scams in the Berkshires
Adams Community Bank has been notified by both the FDIC and its customers that there are a few scams occurring in the Berkshires. All of these scams feature some common themes—a notification through email or the Internet to make or win money, and targeting individuals that are out of work.
“Adams Community Bank wants our customers and the Berkshires to be attentive to their personal and financial information,” urged CEO Charlie O’Brien. “The FDIC, our institution and the other banks in the region would never request information through an email message.”
The FDIC is referenced in the first email scam which appears to come from Publishers Clearing House. It states that the recipient is a large cash winner and instructs them to obtain a “Check Insurance Certificate from FDIC” with a fee of $1,000. The message recipient is to write to the FDIC via e-mail for instructions on how to send the requested fee but it includes a fraudulent e-mail address and phone number. The FDIC does not issue Check Insurance Certificates and the intent of these messages is to steal $1,000.
Work from Home and Earn $$$
The next scam is a job listing posted as “Work from Home” on help wanted websites. When one corresponds with the email address provided in the listing, the job seeker receives an invitation to earn money for minimal effort. In one example, all they have to do is receive postal money orders for one amount ($1990) and send them back (generally to a foreign country) for a lesser amount ($1720) from Western Union. The problem is by the time the bank receives notice that the postal money orders are counterfeit, the victim has already sent their good funds out of the country.
“These type of scams prey on individuals who need money the most,” stated Adams Community Bank’s SVP and chief information officer, Kathy Luczynski. “If you receive an email or see an Internet posting that seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”
Another recent scam reported has been occurring on social media websites—including Facebook. Someone you do not know requests to be your friend. This person will communicate with you over the course of several months and develop a level of trust. After awhile, this individual will send to you small “tester” checks which clear with your bank with no problem. Then they request that you help them out with a serious financial transaction. Similar to the other scams, this person now sends you a fraudulent check and asks to wire funds elsewhere. By the time “your friend’s” check has been returned, you have wired your good money out. Interestingly, these trusted new friends can now no longer be contacted—leaving you in the lurch with a significant loss of funds.
Seek advice from a trusted financial advisor
Luczynski explained that Adams Community Bank strives to be proactive in educating staff and customers of these widespread scams. Frequently customers visit one of the bank’s branch offices to inquire about a check that they have received. Often, it is a fraudulent, and the customer is looking for clarification from their trusted financial advisor.
“We would rather customers exercise caution before cashing these types of checks,” stated Luczynski. “Adams Community Bank is delighted when our customers actively seek our advice and are able to avoid falling victim to a scam.”