Have You Given Out Your Account Information?
We Have Recently Heard From Several Victims Who Gave Out Their Full Banking Information To Scammers
Let that sink in for a second. They gave out full access to their financial lives to someone they have never met.
ARE YOU ONE OF THESE?
This is not about blaming the victims or accusing them of being stupid, but to point out The Incredible Danger Of This Action.
We have come to believe that a significant number of romance scam victims have done this. Of the victims that sent money to a scammer, as much as 10% have given their full banking information, and in many cases even given access to their online banking accounts.
Why did You do this?
In most cases it was so the scammer could deposit money for them in their account. In some cases it was so others could deposit money in the victim’s account. The scammers have a thousand stories of why they need to do this, from difficulties receiving money internationally to paying the victim back for a loan.
Regardless of the reasons by giving access to your bank account in this way it places you at serious risk.
Scammers are far smarter than most people give them credit for, and they understand that access to your bank account opens the door for money transfers and illegal banking activities. This includes money laundering and fake check scams and many more. All of these crimes come right back on the victim because it is their account. In fact, in many countries just giving access to your account without notifying your bank can be considered a crime.
Ways That A Scammer Can Use Your Account Illegally
One of the ways a scammer can leverage your account is to use it to receive money from other scam victims. The scammer can have the other victims do a bank wire transfer into your account – making you a MULE or accessory to their crimes – then transferring it out to their real accounts or other means. In the United States, for example, you can receive money into an account then transfer it out via Western Union all through the online banking interface. Having access to your account makes it much easier to scam others and receive the money – this is Money Laundering and it is a crime.
Another scam that they can pull on you is to deposit fake checks into your account. Typically in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere, your bank will advance you the money before the checks actually clear – meaning before they are actually funded. They make one to three fake check deposits in your account then immediately transfer out the funds as soon as they are available (usually the next day). Then a few days later the bank wants their money back because the checks bounced and were fake. You end up with a huge debt to the bank, and in fact, may face criminal charges for bank fraud. Either way, you may lose your bank account and may not be able to get another one for years.
Still another way is to use your bank to launder real money that comes from illegal activities. It could be anything from scamming to terrorism to human trafficking.
All of this because you trusted someone with the keys to your financial life you never met in real life.
In addition, access to your banking information allows the scammer to obtain credit cards, loans, and other instruments that all come back on you.
Don’t Panic Yet
If you gave any of your banking information to a scammer you must do two things immediately – as in right now today:
- Go in person and talk with your bank. Just explain that a stranger may have access to your bank account and information.
- Make sure they report it to their fraud department
- Get your account frozen and a new account opened
- Have them check for any unknown or unauthorized transactions
- Have them check for any related activities, such as credit cards, loan activities, etc.
- Go in-person to your local police and speak to their Fraud Detectives
- You will have to explain the scam to them
- You will have to explain that the scammer gained access to your banking information
- Be sure they take your report and give you a police report number – keep that
- You are also advised to report the crime to your national police as well
Why do you have to do these? Because this is your “get out of jail free card!” This is your best defense if something criminal was done by the scammer or if law enforcement comes after you. You need to be sure that everyone understands that you had no intention of committing a crime, that you are a victim.
We also strongly advise you to see an attorney for further advice and if needed to help you defend yourself against charges.
It is one thing to be scammed and fall for it, and it is another to give scammers access to your banking services. You cannot hide in denial from this because if you do it could be viewed as knowing about the scammer’s actions and intent, and that can make you an accessory.
Do not wait to see what happens. You have to protect yourself and get in front of this. You have to report it to protect yourself. If you do not and it blows up it could be much harder to prove you were innocent, plus you might be blacklisted in the banking industry and it would show on your credit.
Take This Seriously – It Is Serious!
Mistakes like this can have serious consequences.
Please let us know if this applies to you and how it all turned out. The more information we receive the better we can help the next victim in a similar situation.
We wish you the best of luck!