Inquire before you Wire Questionnaire

Inquire before you wire.

This questionnaire is a service to you as part of our ongoing effort to educate the public about financial fraud.

Criminals often seek to have money wired or sent to them. Once money is wired it is almost impossible to recover. Therefore please answer the following questions fully and truthfully to decrease the chance that you will be a victim of a scam.  This questionnaire is designed to identify warning signs that a scam may be in progress.  This tool is not a substitute for seeking professional assistance.

1Is the purpose of this transaction related to a lottery, prize or sweepstakes?__ Yes__ No
2Is this transaction requested by someone who is in jail, prison, or detained?__ Yes__ No
3Were you instructed to mislead the bank regarding the purpose of the transaction or to tell the bank a false reason for the wire or withdraw?__ Yes__ No
4Were you told to deposit a check then send part of those funds to someone?__ Yes__ No
5Were you told to not discuss this transaction with family, trusted friends, or trusted advisors?__ Yes__ No
6Were you told that there was a tight deadline and that the funds had to be sent immediately?__ Yes__ No
7Were you told that the money is being sent to pay taxes or fees?__ Yes__ No
8Were you threatened or are you suspicious that you may be the victim of a fraud or a scam?__ Yes__ No
9Do you understand that once money is wired that it is almost impossible stop the transaction and if the money is sent for a fraud that the bank is not responsible for your loss?__ Yes__ No
10Have you personally met the person receiving the money?ˉ Yes__ No


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Customer Signature                                                                 Date


Is the customer a potential victim of fraud?

Yes to #1. There are several schemes which involve a con-artist informing a victim that they have money ready to be received but they must pay a fee, tax or money before the prize, lottery or sweepstakes can be delivered.   The customer should be advised that such arrangements are not required and that the money sent will be lost.

Yes to #2.   One common scheme is for a person pretending to be a grandchild or relative to call and claim to be held in jail and need to have a fine or bail posted. Although they may sound convincing these calls are almost always a scam. The person calling claims to be the relative, an attorney or a law enforcement official. Fines, bail or fees are not paid by wire transfers. Often victims learn that their relative was never in trouble. Usually a call to the relative or their family will reveal that there is no legal emergency.

Yes to # 3. Financial institutions are becoming increasingly aware of these types of frauds. Therefore, the criminals often ask the victims to misrepresent the reason that funds are being withdrawn or wired. Victims are told to tell financial institutions that the funds are being used to pay taxes, for a vacation, to remodel a home, or to help a family member.

Yes to # 4. There are several frauds that involve the receipt of a wire, check, money order or cashiers check. The victim is asked to confirm or deposit the funds then wire or send cashiers checks to another party. The victim is subjected to pressure to conclude the transaction quickly. Often the items deposited are convincing documents. However, these deposit turns out to be bogus and the victim may lose money or be responsible for overdrafts. The scheme often takes the form of an overpayment. For example, the target is told that they want to purchase a vehicle for $10,000 but only have a $15,000 cashier’s check. They ask the victim to deposit the $15,000 send them $5,000 and promise the pick up the car or merchandise later. The victim sends the $5,000 but the $15,000 turns out to be fake causing a loss. Sometimes the criminal asks the victim to assist in a foreign transaction and asks them to deposit a check that turns out to be bogus. In the meanwhile the victim has withdrawn and wired money to the criminals. The victim is likely responsible for losses or overdrafts.

Yes to # 5. Criminals know that concealment is important for the fraud to succeed. Often con-artists tell the victim that the transactions are confidential, secret, or should be concealed from family members. They may suggest that family members should be surprised with the windfall. Other times the scammers may suggest that you have participated in an illegal activity and that disclosure would result in criminal prosecution. A trusted professional such as a lawyer or accountant should be consulted to determine if a transaction is legitimate.

Yes to # 6. One tactic that criminals use is to insist that transaction be conducted immediately. Con-artists want to prevent the victim from seeking advice. Any substantial transaction should be studied before completing.

Yes to # 7. Individuals do not generally pay fees or taxes by wire transfers. Legitimate fees and taxes generally require forms and clear explanation of the liability. Victims are often mislead into sending money without proper documentation. Once sent the funds are almost certainly lost.

Yes to # 8. A customer should never send money due to a threat. If the customer is suspicious about the transaction further steps should be taken to determine its validity. The customer should be counseled to consult trusted advisors to verify the legitimacy of the business deal.

No to # 9. Customers often do not understand that once money is wired or sent that it is almost impossible to stop the transaction. Customers often assume that if they contest the validity of a transaction that the financial intuition will be required to restore the funds. Many fail to understand the difference between a credit card purchase and a wire transfer. Wire transactions have very few protections for the sender. Generally speaking once funds are sent they cannot be retrieved.

No to # 10. Incredibly, many victims’ dealings involve only telephone calls, letters, text messages or email exchanges. There are many schemes that involve individuals sending money on the promise that they will be able to return merchandise or cancel the deal. Some involve so-call Craigslist scams where someone promises that money will be held by an escrow agent which will be returned if the car or merchandise does not meet the buyer’s satisfaction. Most of these transactions are bogus.