Alert 2007-16| March 21, 2007

Counterfeit Cashier’s Checks: Counterfeit Cashier’s Checks of Unity National Bank, Houston, TX

To

Chief Executive Officers of All National Banks; All State Banking Authorities; Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Director, Office of Thrift Supervision; Conference of State Bank Supervisors; Deputy Comptrollers (districts); Assistant Deputy Comptrollers; District Counsel; and All Examining Personnel

The above-named bank has reported that counterfeit cashier's checks issued in the bank's name and using a correct routing number of 113001242 are being presented for payment nationwide in connection with a variety of lottery scams.

While the counterfeit items have a strong resemblance to the authentic items, the counterfeit checks may be identified by the following: checks transition left to right from pink to blue in color and contain a dark blue border. A security strip within the top border states: "THE CHECK IS VOID WITHOUT A COLORED BORDER AND BACKGROUND PLUS A KNIGHT & FINGERPRINT WATERMARK ON THE BACK – HOLD AT ANGLE TO VIEW." The word "DATE" appears in the right-center portion of the item followed by an underscored date. Directly beneath the date section is the numeric payable dollar amount, which is enclosed in a rectangular-shaped box. A "PAY TO THE ORDER OF" area appears in the left-center area of the instrument followed by the alpha dollar amount. There is one authorized signature line in the bottom-right section of the check followed by the statement: "SIGNATURE AREA CONTAINS A KNIGHT & FINGERPRINT CHECK WORDING." The following security statement has been placed directly under the MICR line: "Absence of pink U.S. patent numbers under signature indicates check is fraudulent. Patent numbers are printed with heat sensitive ink and will disappear when blowing or rubbing."

Items presented to date have been made payable in the amount of $3,700 and have contained serial numbers 071861 through 072822. Due to possible variations of appearance, it is suggested that Unity National Bank officials be contacted to verify authenticity of the bank's official items if received from an unknown or questionable source.

Correspondence accompanying the checks may contain the letterhead of "Boston Financial" or "American Financial" and contain the signature of "Robert A. Thom, Head Financial coordinator." Note that the "c" in the word "coordinator" appears in lower-case. There are no indications of a return mailing address. The letter claims an association to the "International Lotto Corporation" and alerts the recipient that he or she is the winner of an unclaimed prize and should contact the office immediately. The recipient is advised to keep all information confidential and is encouraged to act by a specific date or the winnings will be forfeited. Recipients are to contact John Vasconsello at 1-778-891-5867 (a Canadian telephone number). The correspondence may be signed by "Robert A. Thom, Head Financial coordinator."

For additional information and guidance and to verify the authenticity of Unity National Bank's cashier's checks, please contact Deborah Archie, Senior Vice President & Cashier, Unity National Bank, 2602 Blodgett, Houston, TX 77004, by telephone at (713) 387-7403, by fax at (713) 620-4351, or via email at [darchie@unitybanktexas.com]. An additional contact person is Sharon Barzar, Operations Officer, who may be reached by telephone at (713) 387-7407, by fax at (713) 620-4351, or via email at [sbarzar@unitybanktexas.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.

/signed/

Richard C. Stearns
Director for Enforcement & Compliance