Fraud Lurking in Our Community
Fraud Specialist Kristy Desimone joins host Lynne Jarman-Johnson to talk about the current fraud tactics that are looking about and causing Michigan to rank in the top 10 states for fraud victims.
0:00:00.0 Lynne Jarman-Johnson: Money, I’m Home. Welcome in. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union. Thank you so much for joining us today. I’ll tell you what, you know, we have had so many headlines lately in the news about fraud and the potential for all of us to get scammed, and it happens everywhere, and it’s happening to everybody. Kristy Desimone is with us today. She is our fraud specialist here at Consumers Credit Union. And Kristy, you just sent me the most amazing facts that actually probably caused us not to sleep at night, but this came from an amazing resource, a detective in the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office. Tell us a little bit about these kind of contacts that you have to keep us up to date.
0:00:54.4 Kristy Desimone: Yeah, of course. So as a fraud specialist here at Consumers, we really pride ourselves on being able to reach out to our community and get knowledge and information from them to educate our members. And so we’re able to meet with a variety of police departments and law enforcement agencies to kind of keep our finger on the pulse of what’s happening out there.
0:01:12.2 LJJ: So Kristy, Michigan is top 10 in the amount of people that are scammed, and we are top 17 in the amount of money that was taken. What’s going on in Michigan?
0:01:24.5 KD: I just really believe being someone who’s come from a different state to reside in Michigan, that we are really nice people here in Michigan and we really are trustworthy, and that’s where we get those numbers from.
0:01:36.2 LJJ: So, it’s even more important for us to kind of put our guard up. We can still be friendly, but …
0:01:42.3 KD: Right, 100 percent still be friendly, still have faith in humanity, but just be educated about what’s out there.
0:01:49.4 LJJ: Now, you have throughout the year been telling us about these little pockets of crime. One of the components that I think really gave me pause was all about business email compromise. Just recently we’ve heard about huge organizations, hotel conglomerates that were hit really big. And this was based on emails that were sent to innocent employees who then give up account information.
0:02:17.2 KD: Right. Yeah. So, someone will send you an email that looks like it’s coming from someone in your organization asking for a specific information of some kind, and we really need to take that moment to pause and check out the email address. Does it make sense for who’s sending you the email? Is it something you were expecting? And typically, we always recommend if you’re giving out information, call that person to make sure that they’re the ones who sent that email.
0:02:42.6 LJJ: One of the reports that had come from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is really tracking all of the internet crimes that are happening out there. They say phishing is number one. Again, remind us, phishing is when something looks like a company and a person who you might know, but is truly 100 percent fraud.
0:03:02.2 KD: Yeah, so it is. So, I have an example of one where we spoke with a member, and they had an email come from someone in their university. And when I asked about what the email address was, it was a Gmail. And I said, hey, would it make sense for someone to send something from your university with a Gmail email account? No, they would have their dot edu school email. So, it’s definitely someone trying to get that information out of you that’s not part of your organization.
0:03:27.6 LJJ: And we talked a little bit about business email. You know, the one that is up and coming, we spoke about last month a little bit, and that’s crypto investments. This is also an increase in reported losses in a year that literally almost doubled. And so obviously people are looking into crypto. They want to learn about it. Some people feel like it’s a, you know, get rich quick scheme, but then all of a sudden they realize it was just a scheme.
0:03:54.3 KD: Right? A hundred percent. And I had heard a story on the news of someone who was a night shift at a hotel and they were given an … They were sent an email that said, hey, withdraw everything. This is your boss, put it in a Bitcoin ATM. And they did that, and it was a scam. So yeah, they are using Bitcoin ATMs to get that money somewhere untraceable.
0:04:15.3 LJJ: And once that happens, your money’s gone. Right? Is there anything that can save something like that?
0:04:21.0 KD: There really isn’t, but you can still make a complaint and have it tracked, and so that we can kind of monitor and those kinds of things. But that’s the real reason we are so hyped on making sure withdrawals and things that you’re doing out of your account make sense and that you’re not being coached through a conversation or putting it in a Bitcoin ATM.
0:04:37.5 LJJ: Impersonations … this is where there’s a lot of AI going on where somebody’s voice will be used and the highest percentage of people who are getting this impersonator type fraud are older adults. And very scary.
0:04:54.4 KD: It is, and I’ve actually had a couple of instances of a scam that has come out of this magnitude where someone reconnects with you after not speaking to you for a long period of time, and then they ask you, they’re overseas or they’re somewhere where they can’t see you. They use other people’s voices, things like that. They get information off your social media accounts in order to lull you in a false sense of security to give out your account information or deposit fraud checks for them. And so, it is on the rise with our older adults.
0:05:23.3 LJJ: We always like to say, if you feel something’s off, it probably is and to give us a call. You know, Michigan, this is really telling, Kristy, you sent me this information. Michigan was in the top 10 states. We were number eight that had victims of fraud over the internet. I mean, it’s just … It makes you shake your head because we try so hard, and yet it looks like we might be a targeted state.
0:05:55.1 KD: Yeah. But what it makes me feel is really passionate about doing things like this podcast to get that information out to our members. It’s so important to educate yourself so that we can get down from number eight to zero, not even on the list.
0:06:05.8 LJJ: And I love this that you say this all the time, but I can’t underscore it enough. Do not be embarrassed if you have been a victim and/or are even close to being a victim and make those phone calls to the appropriate authorities.
0:06:17.0 KD: Right. And that information tells you you’re not alone. A hundred percent right there. That’s the proof you need to say, hey, you’re not alone. This is very common, and we can only combat it if we know what’s going on.
0:06:27.0 LJJ: Have there been any upticks that you see? I mean, you monitor this not only from our members calling in, but also obviously through the sources that you have in the sheriff department and in all the others. Has it really been a lot of email? Is there a lot of phone? Is texting creeping up? What’s going on out there?
0:06:46.5 KD: Yeah, so really what I’ve started to notice an uptick in is gift cards again, people being asked to purchase gift cards and give those back to the fraudster. We’ve also seen an uptick in romance scams. So those longevity scams where someone is really putting in the time to fool you and ask for your account information, and then the spoofing call scam. So they’re spoofing our number. It’s not us. They’re looking for information. They’re trying to get it out of you. So just remember that Consumers doesn’t call and ask you for your account numbers or Social Security numbers or anything of that nature.
0:07:18.3 LJJ: And seriously, wherever you bank, it is really important, find out what it is that your financial institution does to make sure that you are not going to get scammed. And one of the things they will say, and it is very important, please contact them before you’re all of a sudden giving account numbers out.
0:07:41.5 KD: A hundred percent. And Consumers does a great job with our security page on our website that gives you all the information you need and what we ask for and what we don’t ask for and common scams. So, if you really want to educate yourself and get some more information, that’s a great place to start. Even if you aren’t a member here, it’s a great place to get some information.
0:07:58.9 LJJ: Well, Kristy, number one, thank you for always sending such information out to our members. It is so important to keep our … You know? Seriously. We just got to keep our eyes out and make sure that we understand that this is happening daily. It is not something that is going to not happen to you. It probably will, but you can be ready.
0:08:18.7 KD: A hundred percent. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. And when it does happen, we’re here for you.
0:08:22.8 LJJ: Well, Kristy Desimone, she is absolutely the most sought-after fraud specialist. Thank you, Kristy. I really appreciate it.
0:08:32.6 KD: Thank you, Lynne.
0:08:34.4 LJJ: If you have any questions or you have something that you’d want to share about fraud, and we really do want to make sure that our members are protected and then you and the community are as well. So please don’t hesitate to share them. Send a note to myself or Kristy. Go online, find us. We’re everywhere. Consumers.
0:08:49.6 KD: We’re here. [laughter]
0:08:52.4 LJJ: Consumerscu.org. Thanks all for listening, and thank you Jake Esselink for your production skills. I hope everybody has a very safe week.