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Bank investigator scam uses common red flags of fraud


FCNB is warning New Brunswickers about a modern twist on an old scam known as the ‘bank investigator’ scam after being alerted that a Saint John resident recently lost money to this fraud.

Circulating since the 1950s, this telephone scam involves a scammer calling you pretending to be a representative of a financial institution working on a fraud case.The scammer says they need your help to stop this fraud, and they want to use your bank account in the sting operation.

In this particular case, the scammer called the victim in the early morning claiming a suspicious purchase of iTunes gift cards was made on the victim’s credit card. The scammer later said that the victim had been approved to participate in a sting operation to catch suspicious employees at local bank branches involved in the suspected scam.

When the victim questioned the legitimacy of the sting operation, the scammer provided specific information about the individual’s bank account to make it sound legitimate. The victim was also advised not to contact the bank because it would “tip them off” to the investigation.

The victim was instructed to go to a particular store to buy $1,400 of iTunes cards.  The scammer implied that the store may be involved in the scam as well. Once he purchased the iTunes cards, the victim was instructed to provide the scammer with the codes on the back of the iTunes cards so they could be tracked.

The victim was then given the name of a security personnel to call at the local bank branch at a specific time to learn the results of the sting investigation.  When the victim called the branch, he discovered the investigation was a hoax.

How to Spot the Common Red Flags in the Bank Investigator Scam:

  • You receive a telephone call early in the morning, often when you are still sleeping, from someone claiming to be a representative from a financial institution (Red Flag: Catches you off guard).
  • You are rushed into making a decision or giving personal information (Red Flag: Pressures you to act fast).
  • You are asked to make a purchase of iTunes gift cards or other company gift cards, pre-paid credit cards or cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin (Red Flag: Pay with unusual methods).
  • You are asked to keep the information the scammer is providing secret (Red Flag: Ask you to keep it a secret because you might be warned it’s a scam!).

How to protect yourself from this scam:

  • Be alert when dealing with your financial matters.
  • Never provide personal or banking information to someone you do not know on the phone, in a text or in an email. Call your bank with a number from your records, or the phone book to confirm if this is in fact legitimate.
  • Always question urgent requests for money.
  • Do not forward or transfer money to people you do not know.
  • Never make a payment to a financial institution using iTunes gift cards. A financial institution or legitimate organization will never ask you to pay using these gift cards.
  • Don’t transfer money or codes to anyone that you do not know.
  • Do not assume the phone numbers appearing on call display are accurate. Criminals use “Call Spoofing” technology to mislead victims.

Where to report the Bank Investigator Scam:

If you think you have been a victim of this scam, contact your financial institution immediately, your local police or RCMP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Learn more about how to report fraud and where to report fraud.

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