Alert 2008-38| September 2, 2008

Counterfeit Cashier’s Checks: Counterfeit Cashier’s Checks of Southwest National Bank, Wichita, KS

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 101100618 are being presented for payment nationwide in connection with both a mystery shopping scam and overpayment scam.

The counterfeit checks do not resemble the authentic items and may be identified by the following traits: the instruments are appearing in a variety of colors including yellow, pink, and tan. The bank’s name and logo are printed in the lower-left corner of the instrument and may include a telephone number of 1-866-471-8240, which is not associated with the bank, but rather with the scammer. The following security statement is located within the top border of the check: “FOR SECURITY PURPOSES THE FACE OF THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS A COLORED BACKGROUND AND MICROPRINTING IN THE BORDER.” The following security statement may be located within the bottom border surrounded by padlock icons: “SECURITY FEATURES INCLUDED. DETAILS ON BACK.”

Items presented to date in reference to the mystery shopping scams have been made payable in the amounts of $4,976 and $4,985 and may include a remitter name of either Harris Cole or Rena Keith.

Items presented in the overpayment scams have been made payable in amounts from $217 to $65,500. These checks may contain remitter names of Towne West Square, Bertha Coleman, or Harris Cole.

Due to possible variations in the appearance of the bank’s official items and differing scams associated with the counterfeit items, officials of Southwest National Bank suggest they be contacted to verify authenticity of the bank’s cashier’s checks if received from an unknown or questionable source.

Correspondence accompanying the counterfeit checks may contain one of the following letterheads:

  • SSA, PO Box 5240, Madison, WI 53705
  • Certified Mystery Research Shoppers (CMRS), 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140.

The letter may be signed by Fran Mainella (Director, Operations). The correspondence informs the recipient that he or she has been selected to represent the company as a research-personnel or customer-service evaluator. It is explained that the enclosed cashier’s check is to be used during the assignment to make purchases at various merchants and to transfer money using a nationally known wire service. Recipients are instructed to contact either Savanah Richie at (514) 575-2976 or (514) 559-2904 or Jack Wilson at (514) 559-4657 for detailed instructions prior to depositing the check. Potential victims are required to keep the assignment confidential in accordance with the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which is enclosed with the check. Note that these telephone numbers originate out of Quebec.

For additional information and guidance and to verify the authenticity of Southwest National Bank’s cashier’s checks, please contact Pamela Watkins, Bookkeeping Supervisor/Vice President, 400 E. Douglas, Wichita, KS 67202, by telephone at (316) 291-5310, by fax at (316) 942-7226, or via email at [bookkeeping@southwestnb.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