Treats, Gift Bags and Fraud?

Treats, gift bags and fraud?

I volunteer and work with a group of teenage girls who have taught me a few tricks on how to take better pictures with my iPhone or how to create the perfect post for my social media accounts. These teenage girls are savvy beyond their years and are interested in making the world a better place. In one of our weekly get-togethers, I decided to take a poll and ask them about their favorite payment options. Not surprisingly, most of them prefer Apple Pay, Venmo or other forms of peer-to-peer (P2P) payment services. I drilled down further and asked, “Well, who provides the credit card or the debit card for your Apple Pay or Venmo?” Most of them said their parents added money to the card on file. Some have part-time jobs and add their own money to their accounts. When I asked if they were concerned about fraud, they expressed a desire to learn more about the types of fraud they might encounter. Being the great ambassador that I am for financial crime prevention, I told them we would schedule an event where I would tell them all about financial crime and what red flags they should be looking for when conducting any type of monetary transaction…and, of course, I added there would be treats and small gift bags, which garnered more interest in the future activity.

Just like adding some free goodie bags to the possible fraud learning event to make it more enticing for the group of teenage girls to attend, online fraudsters tend to lure teenagers into giving up personal information on accounts by offering free ringtones and other free services for smartphones or they rein in the teenager with a fake auction item at an unbelievable bid. Another favorite scam is online shopping. Most teenagers shop online, which makes it a prime spot for fraudsters to target teenagers. The cover article “Prepaid Debit Cards for Teens: A Target for Online Scammers,” written by Mavis Bennett, covers additional red flags, what to look for and how to protect your teenagers and yourself from “would be” scams.

Another apropos article—considering most of us in the U.S. participated in an election at the beginning of November—is the second headline: “Small Town Politics, Big Time Thefts.” The author, Stephanie Painter, reviews a case study in a small American town, where an increased sense of trust in a municipal government allowed one individual to embezzle millions of dollars from her small town.

Continuing with our fraud theme, the article “Elvis and the Fraud Triangle,” written by Paul Camacho, outlines how Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s longtime manager and a compulsive gambler, defrauds Presley and his estate of millions of dollars. This is a unique take on how the risk-based approach could help mitigate reputational risk for casinos and—when applied correctly—it can be a preventive way for casinos to gather information about how a patron funds their gambling.

We are wrapping up the year-end and the new-year edition with additional topics, such as synthetic identity fraud, banking cannabis and enlightening interviews with Sarah Beth Felix, co-founder of Acceleron Bank (in formation) and Alex Egan, former military and now in a thriving anti-financial crime (AFC) compliance career.

Congratulations to our ACAMS 2022 award winners: Joseph Mari, Article of the Year recipient; Victor Cardona, AFC Professional of the Year; Jonathan Dupont, AFC Rising Professional of the Year Award recipient; and Connecticut, Chapter of the Year recipient.

I hope you will all enjoy reading this edition of ACAMS Today. Unfortunately, I ran out of gift bags and will not be able to send all 100,000 of you treats to accompany you while you read, but I do want to wish you all a healthy and safe holiday season!

Karla Monterrosa-Yancey, CAMS
Follow us on Twitter: @acamstoday

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