Starting in 1963, Frank Abagnale began his criminal career. Made famous from the film, Catch Me if You Can, this mastermind of forgery made a name for himself at a young age by impersonating pilots, lawyers, and doctors. Throughout these impersonations, Frank found new and inventive ways to defraud the United States and at least eight other countries. When he was captured at age 21, he had defrauded multiple nations upwards of $1.3 million dollars. After serving five years of his twelve year federal sentencing, he agreed to work with the FBI to help investigate and proactively protect the United States from further check fraud.
As Frank’s history with the FBI began to grow, he started to share the distinctive patterns and signatures behind the best of check fraud criminals. See if you can determine which of these check fraud facts are true and which are just cinematic magic:
True or False? Big corporations such as Pan Am had a much higher risk of check fraud than small mom and pop shops.
FALSE: Although Pan Am was depicted as the start of Frank’s larger check fraud scheme, large scale business models face less risk than most small businesses. Did you know one in four businesses have fell victim to fraud? While larger companies have internal security and protective insurances for such instances, most local businesses rely on their employees and their customers to ensure an honest and accurate transaction.
True or False? Paper check forgery still is prominent today.
TRUE: With small businesses as the largest targets, paper check fraud is still a relevant issue, even today. Often times, the culprit can be employees who write a business check to themselves. Other instances can be a vendor who is able to alter the ink on the check to reflect an amount that they would prefer. While there are many additional cyber fraud crimes possible today, the threat of a paper check fraud is still imminent.
True or False? This movie largely encourages check fraud and teaches criminals how to hone their craft.
FALSE: While this movie does display many techniques in producing fraudulent checks, the premier intention of the film is to educate both banks and businesses in what to look for concerning false checks. There are many simple markers and signs that a check may be a fake, and while the storyline depicts the various lifestyle choices of a criminal, it reveals in the end, that Frank Abagnale began to help the FBI identify these markers to prevent future check fraud.
What to look for in fradulent checks straight from Frank Abagnale:
- Keep any checks, deposit slips, or check re-orders under lock and key in a secure location. Many times those close to your business are the culprits in a check fraud crime.
- Use Remote Deposit Capture from Heartland Bank. This service ensures that the check is treated just like a debit. If there are no funds in this account or it represents a false account, you will know as soon as the transaction completes.
- When receiving a check in a transaction, scan the check to make sure it has a perforated edge, marking where it was torn from the checkbook.
- Never cash a check you are unsure of. If something does not seem right, it is always safer to ask for further identity verification, or simply deny their request to cash the check.
If you’re curious how to keep your small business secure against check fraud, come by Heartland Bank today and speak with one of our local commercial lenders.