Alert 2016-5| March 29, 2016
Fictitious Regulatory Agency Issuance: Fictitious Correspondence Regarding the Release of Funds Supposedly Under the Control of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
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
Fictitious correspondence, allegedly issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) or other government entities regarding funds purportedly under the control of the OCC, is in circulation. Correspondence may be distributed via email, fax, or postal mail.
Any document claiming that the OCC is involved in holding any funds for the benefit of any individual or entity is fraudulent. The OCC does not participate in the transfer of funds for, or on behalf of, individuals, business enterprises, or governmental entities.
There are several variations of fictitious documents in circulation, three of which are attached to this Alert. While the appearance of documentation may differ, the material is being sent to consumers in an attempt to elicit funds from them and to gather personal information to be used in possible future identification theft.
Variation No. 1
These documents may contain the letterhead of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with the page footer containing the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal and wording. The letter claims that the OCC is holding funds until a Clearance Certificate fee has been verified as paid. Both the letter and "Official Receipt" appear to be signed by an official of Homeland Security. This material may be sent via email from [email@example.com].
Variation No. 2
This document references "CEASE AND DESIS ORDER OF FUNDS" and instructs the recipient to complete a FUNDS IMPORT CERTIFICATION & INTERNATIONAL TRANSFER PERMIT ORDER to ensure that the OCC releases funds to the beneficiary. This letter appears to be signed by an official of the OCC. This material may be sent via email from [firstname.lastname@example.org]. Please note that this email address is not affiliated with the OCC and has been shut down. The OCC's website is www.occ.gov, and all e‑mail addresses associated with the OCC would end in [@occ.treas.gov].
Variation No. 3
The document contains both the Treasury Department and OCC seals and references "NOTIFICATION OF FULL CLEARANCE FOR CREDITTING". This document was issued to the recipient following his payment of an $8,900 "MT 103" fee. Email addresses used to perpetrate this fraud include: [email@example.com] and [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Before responding in any manner to any proposal supposedly issued by the OCC that requests personal information or personal account information, or that requires the payment of any fee in connection with the proposal, recipients should take steps to verify that the proposal is legitimate.
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
For additional information regarding other types of financial fraud, please visit the OCC's anti-fraud resources page.
Ellen M. Warwick
Director for Enforcement and Compliance