As I was checking my e-mail this morning, this letter from “Timothy Jacobs” caught my attention. This is what it said:
My Name is Mr. Timothy Jacobs, I am Auditor General of prime banks here London
England. During the course of our auditing, I discovered a floating fund in an account opened in the bank in 1990 and since 1993 nobody has operated on this account again.
After going through some old files in the records I discovered that the owner of the account died without a [heir] hence the money is floating and if I do not remit this money out urgently it will be forfeited for nothing. The owner of this account is late: Mr. Loanard H. Donny, a foreigner, a miner
We will start the first transfer with Twenty Six Million Pounds [26,000,000.00] upon successful transaction. I will not fail to bring to your notice that this transaction is hitch-free and you should not entertain any fears as the required arrangements have been made for the completion of this transfer.
This money was secretly deposited and placed for an Investment before the late holder died and none of his families or relatives knows about this money.
I am revealing this to you believing in God that you will never let me down in this business.
Also send your private telephone number and fax number including the full details of the account to be used for the deposit. I need your strong assurance that you will never let me down in this business proposition.
Essentially, these fraudsters have come to an understanding that banks are becoming more cautious with their lending practices, by putting tighter controls on lending.
The tighter controls, in turn, are resulting in a decrease in new account applications fraud, making it less likely that attempts at application fraud will succeed.
As a result, fraudsters are redirecting their efforts to existing accounts. Account takeover fraud occurs when a fraudster obtains and uses a victim’s personal information to take control of existing bank accounts and carries out unauthorized transactions against them.
Fraudsters employ a variety of techniques to obtain the personal and financial information typically needed to take control of existing accounts.
Obtaining such information can be as simple as the above email, an SMS or a phone call. Each of these methods has been attempted on me in a space of six months.
The recent rise in account takeover fraud serves as a reminder that fraud is always evolving. As organizations continue to deal with fraud in their environment, it is clear that they all must remain alert; fraud risk is continually evolving.
It is therefore, important for organizations to think about a continuous process of identifying and addressing the evolving threats of fraud (through a robust fraud risk assessment) rather than just having it as a onetime activity.
Methods to Prevent Account Takeover Fraud
Often, the best and most cost-effective approach to preventing identity fraud/account takeover fraud is consumer education.
The following list provides some useful methods to protect against identity fraud:
Before providing personal information make sure the individual or business requesting it has a valid reason for requiring the information.
Do not give account numbers over the telephone or to persons/companies you are not familiar with. Keep all financial documents in a secure place. Do not provide personal information over the telephone unless you initiated the call and know who you are speaking with.
Do not store your PIN numbers on mobile phones or laptops. Shred any papers with financial information and identifiers rather than simply throwing them in the trash.
Always check bank statements at least once a year. Immediately report to your Bankers any incidences of stolen financial information and credit cards.
Derick Kirunga is a fraud prevention specialist