top of page
  • Admin

Telegram Helps Old-School Check Fraud Get A Hi-Tech Facelift

Published: April 25, 2023 on our newsletter Security Fraud News & Alerts Newsletter.



Cybercriminals are turning to an old-school crime as a new money-maker, but with a technology twist. They’re using messaging platform Telegram to help facilitate their new slant on check fraud. According to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, last year saw a whopping 84% jump to this felonious crime. According to experts, this check fraud rehash is flourishing and deserves a closer look.


New Twist on an Old Crime


Experts view the coronavirus pandemic as giving fuel to the rebirth of checking fraud. The increase in paper checks to disperse pandemic rescue funds got the attention of cybercriminals. They saw the potential to exploit this scenario for their own gain, and they’ve succeeded. It’s motivation enough to keep this crime going and growing.


To start, check fraud requires the theft of actual, physical checks, and USPS mailboxes are a frequent source. Once done, “check washing” takes place using programs like Photoshop. Names and amounts are electronically removed, and fraudulent information put in their place. Old-school check washing meant soaking the stolen checks in a liquid solution to literally wash-off handwritten or typed information.


Keep on Walking


The tolerant nature of Telegram helps bad actors organize and recruit help for this crime. Accomplices, called “walkers,” are needed to deposit fraudulent checks in-person at banks. Walkers are located, recruited, and even advertise their services on the messaging app.

Some walkers promote their desire to help by posting screenshots of hefty deposit receipts. Others post pictures showing their disguised identity for the capers, boast about knowing bank employees, and find their own accomplices. The elderly and homeless are also recruited as walkers, favored for their low fees and other advantages.


“Brokers” who find walkers for a fee, also find helpers to steal checks from mailboxes, apartment buildings, and for other tasks. You’ll find brokers in Telegram chat rooms, posting photos of their recruits in disguise at the bank making fraudulent deposits, and bragging about their credibility. Some are videos of them paying a walker copious amounts of cash as a recruitment tool. Some brokers cater to cybercriminals leading the fraud by finding walkers who appear to match the name on the check, using gender, age, and race as qualifiers.


Avoiding Check Fraud

  • Waging war against check fraud starts with keeping checks out of the hands of thieves, literally.

  • When mailing a paper check, make sure it’s put in a USPS mailbox near collection time. The longer the time before collection, the more opportunity to breach the mailbox.

  • Mail the check at the Post Office yourself, or hand it to directly to your postal carrier for delivery.

  • Keep an eye on checking accounts for any hint of check fraud. If you have a suspicion, immediately call your financial institution to report it.

A comment on the resurgence of check fraud, given by the senior VP of cybersecurity and risk for the American Bankers Association, says simply “It’s a big problem that’s getting worse...” Once again, consumers are tasked with preventing a cybercrime, this time check fraud, from victimizing them.


Keep up to date: Sign up for our Fraud alerts and Updates newsletter

Want to schedule a conversation? Please email us at advisor@nadicent.com

Comments


bottom of page