A woman who had been detained by Glendale police officers Monday about 11 a.m. after allegedly attempting to cash a fraudulent check at the Glendale Area Schools Federal Credit Union at 1800 Broadview Dr. was later found to be a victim of a scam.
“The woman came up to the counter and wanted to cash a check,” said Stuart Perlitsh, chief executive officer of Glendale Area Schools Federal Credit Union. “Our member (the account holder) happened to be here at the same time.”
The woman entered the credit union at about 11 a.m. An alert teller realized the check she was attempting to cash was fraudulent.
Prior to the woman attempting to cash the check, several people from the area and out of state who had received checks from the account holder had contacted credit union employees. He had never sent checks to these individuals.
“Fraud is a big problem with banks and especially when the economy is bad,” Perlitsh said. “Many times a person will sell something online and then receive a check that [exceeds] the amount the item was sold for.”
The person who sent the check then tells the receiver to cash the check at their bank and send them the change. Oftentimes the check is found to be fraudulent and the person that sends the change is now out that money, Perlitsh explained.
This appeared to be a similar type of scam.
“The woman had purchased something on Craig’s List,” said Sgt. Tom Lorenz.
The account holder, in this case of alleged fraud, had already changed his account number after the credit union alerted him of the possible problem.
Perlitsh continues to educate his staff on the various fraudulent activities. He has examples of a fake money order and a real money order. The difference is subtle but significant.
He added that some scams appear to be targeted toward the elderly. A few of the scenarios he has seen with his customers include overseas lottery and sweepstakes tickets.
“[Customers] will come in and tell us they want to wire money to places like Brazil because they have won the lottery there,” Perlitsh said.
He asks if the customer had ever been to Brazil or had bought a lottery ticket.
“They will usually say no,” he said.
But the fact that they had not visited the country or bought a lottery ticket cannot compete with the dream of riches.
“We require account holders to fill out a form we developed before wiring money,” he said.
They ask questions like, “Were you promised a large amount of money in return for sending the wire?” And “Are you sending money to participate in a foreign lottery?”
Perlitsh added bank staff uses the form to determine if money can and should be wired. But even at that there are still some who insist the promises of riches by a stranger is too good to pass up.
“People have accounts at our credit union and at other banks,” he said. “If we [advise] against the wire they will go to their other accounts.”
He has seen people wire from $20,000 to $50,000 and not receive anything in return.
Perlitsh warns that if the story is too good to be true, it probably is not true.