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Outsmarting Mobile Deposit Scammers

Close up of mobile deposit.
 
Remote deposit capture, or mobile deposit, is designed to allow checks to be conveniently deposited to a checking, savings or money market account by taking a picture of the check and delivering the image to the account owner’s financial institution. Mobile deposit is convenient, but it also presents another opportunity for scammers. There are several ways that criminals employ remote deposit capture scams. The most common way is stealing account holders’ personal or account information or tricking them into providing it with social engineering.

Scammers deceive their victims by promising them anything from love to jobs to loans to free money in exchange for their information. The scammer may simply ask for a person’s online banking login credentials or the scammer may request the account and personal details that they then use to set up an online banking account if the victim does not have an active online banking account.

You may be asking yourself, “Why would I give out that information?” You may be thinking, “Of course I know not to give out my personal or account information.” The scammer is usually very convincing with what appears a legitimate reason to need this information.
 
Here are a few examples of common scams that lead to remote deposit capture fraud.
 
The Romance Scam: The con begins when the scammer creates a fake profile, often using stolen photos, posing as an attractive, caring, and sensitive person just searching for his/her soul mate. This person is a professional scammer, not true love. The scammer tells the victim what they long to hear; confess their love very quickly; and then suddenly needs financial assistance.
 
The Job Scam: Many work-from-home scams start online and end with a bank account in the negative. It starts with an advertisement for jobs that do not exist like mystery shopping or car wrap advertising. These jobs usually involve a deposit to the account, and the “employee” is instructed to send a portion of the funds
elsewhere.
 
The Loan Scam: Fraudulent online loan scams are similar to job scams. Advertisement for loans that are not legitimate can lead to a victim providing personal and account information which gives scammer access to the victim’s account.
 
The Easy Money Scam: Let’s be honest - quick and easy money is appealing to everyone. This scam typically involves a friend of a friend on Facebook and an opportunity to make quick easy cash by simply allowing funds to be deposited and then withdrawn from the individual’s account.
 
Each of these scenarios often ends with a person giving account access to the scammer. This information enables the scammer to make deposits through the mobile deposit function. Once the funds are available for use, the scammer instructs the victim to send funds to himself or a third party. Then, days or weeks later, the check will be returned as fraudulent, leaving the victim responsible for losses and returned check fees.
 
Scammers know this simple fact: if they can trick you into making the deposit, you will be responsible for the loss and theft of your money.
 
Knowing who is conducting business and what transactions are happening in your account is key to preventing fraud on your bank accounts. If you are ever in doubt about a check, deposit, or payment please contact the financial institution and ask for assistance. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, contact your local police department immediately and notify your financial institution as soon as possible.
 
Remember the old adages: “There is no free lunch in life,” and “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” If someone promises you free money, it’s not free. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never give personal or banking information to people you meet online – it only gives them a way to steal from you.