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Alert 2018-7
Description: First Federal Savings Bank of Champaign-Urbana

Counterfeit Official Bank Checks of First Federal Savings Bank of Champaign-Urbana, Champaign, Ill.

To: Chief Executive Officers of All National Banks and Federal Savings Associations; All State Banking Authorities; Chair, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Conference of State Bank Supervisors; Deputy Comptrollers (Districts); Assistant Deputy Comptrollers; District Counsels; and All Examining Personnel

The above-named bank has reported that at least five variations of counterfeit official bank checks using the bank’s routing number of 271170390 are being presented for payment nationwide in connection with various online employment opportunity scams involving mystery shopping and automobile advertising wraps.

The counterfeit checks resemble the bank’s authentic items but may be identified by the following traits:

Variation No. 1

  • The check is light blue with a marbled background.
  • The bank’s logo is black and grey in color.
  • The bank’s phone number is missing under the address.
  • The following security statement appears in the top border: “THIS DOCUMENT HAS A COLORED BACKGROUND AND MICROPRINTING. THE REVERSE SIDE INCLUDES AN ARTIFICIAL WATERMARK.”
  • The following statement appears under the authorized signature: “One SIGNATURE REQUIRED OVER $25,000.”

Variation No. 2

  • The check is light blue with a marbled background.
  • The check number is printed in red.
  • The bank’s phone number is missing under the address.
  • The following security statement appears in the top border: “THIS DOCUMENT HAS A COLORED BACKGROUND AND MICROPRINTING. THE REVERSE SIDE INCLUDES AN ARTIFICIAL WATERMARK.”

Variation No. 3

  • The check color is unknown.
  • The bank’s phone number is missing under the address.
  • The following security statement appears in the top border: “THE FACE OF THIS DOCUMENT HAS A COLORED BACKGROUND ON WHITE PAPER.”
  • The following security statement appears in the bottom border: “THE BACK OF THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CHECK SECURITY WATERMARK AND COIN REACTIVE INK.”
  • A padlock icon and security statement are located within the right border.
  • The following statement appears under the authorized signature: “One SIGNATURE REQUIRED OVER $25,000.”
  • A heat shield is located in the bottom-center portion of the check.

Variation No. 4

  • The check color is unknown.
  • The bank’s phone number is missing under the address.
  • The following security statement appears in the top border: “VOID IF COLORED BACKGROUND IS MISSING. A TRUE WATERMARK APPEARS IN DIAMOND WEAVE PATTERN WHEN HELD TO THE LIGHT. VERIFY AUTHENTICITY BY RUBBING RED LS LOGO BELOW.”
  • The following trademark statement appears along the right border of the check: “LaserSecure Fraud-Resistant Laser Checks.”
  • A heatshield is located to the right of the authorized signature line with the words: “Rub Here – Ink Disappears.”
  • The following statement appears under the authorized signature: “One SIGNATURE REQUIRED OVER $25,000.”

Variation No. 5

  • The check color is unknown.
  • The bank’s phone number is missing under the address.
  • There are no security statements on the check.

Checks presented to date have been made payable in amounts ranging from $1890.50 to $2,483.94.

Known scams include the following:

Secret Shopper Money Transfer Service
Potential victims of the mystery shopping scam have received correspondence accompanying the check, which contains the names of a nationally known retail store and money transfer service within the letterhead. The correspondence instructs the potential victims to confirm receipt of the packet by sending an email to [cssevaluate@gmail.com] and [averyg@works-desk.org]. The recipient is further instructed to deposit the funds at his or her financial institution and to email a copy of the deposit slip to the perpetrator. The letter informs the recipient to retain $400 for commission and to purchase a small dollar amount cashier’s check made payable to “First Book” under the guise that this will be donated to charity. The majority of the funds are to be used to conduct two wire transfers to the perpetrators at a well-known retail store for the purported purpose of the victim surveying the services of the money transfer center located within the retail store. The following statement is contained within the letter: “Under no circumstances should you acknowledge that you are evaluating their services as that will defeat the purpose of the whole program, some of the security questions which can trip you include, but not limited to the following: If or when asked if you are a mystery shopper, answer NO. If or when asked if you know the recipients, answer YES.” The correspondence contains a point-of-contact name of Grace Avery, Corporate Research International, with text message telephone numbers of 646-948-1569 and 646-349-2344.

Secret Shopper Gift Card
Potential victims of the gift card scam have received correspondence accompanying the counterfeit check, which contains the name of a well-known mobile device management and entertainment application. The correspondence instructs the potential victims to confirm receipt of the packet by sending either an email to [admin@22itunes.com] and [judithbrant@outlook.com]. The recipient is further instructed to deposit the funds at his or her financial institution and to confirm the deposit with an email to the perpetrator. The letter informs the recipient to retain a small portion of the deposited funds for commission and fees as well as for a charitable donation to be made later. The majority of the funds are to be used in at least two separate transactions purchasing $100- and $50-denomination gift cards at any retail store for the purported purpose of the victim surveying the conduct of the sales representatives. The following statement is contained within the letter: “At the stores; under no circumstances should you acknowledge that you are evaluating their services as that will defeat the purpose of the whole program, some of the security questions which can trip you include, but not limited to the following: If or when asked if you are a mystery shopper or was sent by SOMEONE, answer NO. If or when asked if you know the recipients of the Cards, answer YES, FAMILY GIFTS.” Following the purchase of the cards, the potential victim is told to scratch the cards to reveal the card numbers and to send photos of each card to the perpetrator. The correspondence contains a point-of-contact name of Judith Brant, Corporate Research International, with a text message telephone number of (636) 231-5719.

Automobile Wrap Advertising
Potential victims of the car wrap scam have received correspondence accompanying the counterfeit check, which contains the name of a nationally known brewing company within the letterhead. The potential victims are told to deposit the check into his or her bank account and send the perpetrator a copy of the deposit slip. The letter instructs the recipient to retain $400 for his or her service providing automobile wrap advertising for the company. The victim is instructed to visit a well-known money transmitter to conduct two wire transfers to the perpetrators for the purported purpose of paying decal specialists who will be in contact with details on performing the automobile wrap. Contact information contained within this correspondence includes the name of Daniel Crowder, an email address of [danielcrowder@vandex.com], and a text-only telephone number of 973-963-9354.

For additional information and to verify the authenticity of official bank checks drawn on First Federal Savings Bank of Champaign-Urbana, please contact Senior Vice President of Deposit Acquisitions Elizabeth Reed by mail at 1311 S. Neil Street, P.O. Box 1010, Champaign, Il 61824-1010; by telephone at (217) 356-2265; by fax at (217) 356-2502; or by email at ereed@356bank.com.

Consumers who receive counterfeit or fictitious items and associated material should file complaints with the following agencies, as appropriate:

  • U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Inspector General (OIG): by telephone at (800) 359‑3898 or by visiting the OIG website.
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC): by telephone at (877) FTC-HELP or, for filing a complaint electronically, via the FTC’s website.
  • National Consumers League (NCL): by telephone at (202) 835-3323 or by email. To file a fraud complaint, visit the NCL fraud website.
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB): The BBB system serves markets throughout Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United States and is the marketplace leader in advancing trust between businesses and consumers. The website offers contact information for local BBBs, objective reports on more than 2 million businesses, consumer scam alerts, and tips on a wide variety of topics that help consumers find trustworthy businesses and make wise purchasing decisions.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (to report scams that may have originated via the Internet).
  • If correspondence is received via the U.S. Postal Service, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by telephone at (888) 877-7644; by mail at U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Office of Inspector General, Operations Support Group, 222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1250, Chicago, IL 60606-6100; or via the online complaint form.

Additional information concerning this matter that should be brought to the attention of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) may be forwarded to

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Special Supervision Division
400 7th St. SW, Suite 3E-218; MS 8E-12
Washington, DC 20219
Phone: (202) 649-6450
Fax: (571) 293-4925
www.occ.gov
occalertresponses@occ.treas.gov

For additional information regarding other types of financial fraud, please visit the OCC’s anti-fraud resources page.


Monica A. Freas
Director for Enforcement and Compliance

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