When security goes too far…

… or when the right hand knoweth not what the left hand doeth.

I have an account with Chase. You know, JP Morgan Chase, which used to be known as Chase National Bank. They’ve been pretty good to me and have helped a lot with some particular financial needs over the last couple of years or so.

But the other day, I wanted to do a wire transfer to another account of mine. So I went online, entered the data for the receiving account, and fired off the request.

Email: “Your wire transfer has been cancelled by our security department. Please call us for further details.

Ok, so I call Chase and explain the system. I verify myself with account pins, one-time text messages, and various identifying data. “Oh, it’s because you’ve recently changed your password. I’ve cleared that flag, go ahead and re-submit the request.”

Fine. Request the wire transfer again.

Email: “Your wire transfer has been cancelled by our security department. Please call us for further details.

What the…? OK, I call them and we go through the same rigamarole again. “Sorry, I don’t know what was said during the previous call, but they didn’t identify you properly.” Provide all sorts of information again. “OK, I’ve reset the account. Go ahead and request the transfer again.”

Also: Got a voicemail message and a text message from Chase Fraud Department. “Please call us to clarify some activity on your account.” On a side note, the voice mail was left by someone with a very heavy India accent, leading me to believe this might have been a scammer at work.

Call Fraud Department. The message was legitimate. I am asked for a whole new raft of identifying information, including questions about where I have lived, what cars I have owned, and so forth. I am told all is well. Please submit the request again.

Email: “Your wire transfer has been cancelled by our security department. Please call us for further details.

Shiva H. Vishnu! By this time I’m pulling out my hair. And another text message from the Fraud Department.

Call Chase back, and call the Fraud Department again. Go through the excruciating process of identifying myself for the third time. Everyone decides that it’s because I’m making the request from Florida, and my normal residence is Maine, so the “back office” as they call it is automatically rejecting the transfer because they think it’s fraudulent. By this time I have provided identifying information to Chase five different times.

“You’ll have to go to a local branch to make this transfer.”

Wow. Well, it’s a good thing there are close branches here in Florida where I’m staying for the winter.

To make a long story short, the teller asks me all the same questions again. She has to refer me to someone else in the branch office. Finally someone comes over to help. It takes me about 15 minutes to get her to understand what I’m trying to do and what has happened in the past. She has to get someone else in her branch to approve the transfer request, and she has to call the Fraud Department herself, whereupon in the course of a three-way call I have to provide all my identifying information for the sixth time, perform mathematical operations on my driver’s license number, promise them my firstborn, stand on my head and spit nickels, and tell them that yes, indeed, I would like to make this wire transfer and that no, indeed, the money is not going to Nigeria, but is simply being transferred to another account I own, and Yes, I know the recipient.

At last. The transfer is effectuated.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Banks these days do their very best to protect their clients’ accounts, and fraud is absolutely rampant. Years ago my mother was almost scammed out of $65,000 by a filthy Russian bottom feeder who played the “You’ve won a million dollars, all we need is the taxes and fees” game with her. Being borderline senescent, she sent the money. By a miracle, when I told the bank what was going on, they were able to reverse the transaction (which sent money to an account in Cyprus) before it had been withdrawn, and Mom only lost about $6,000, the amount of the first request (and these skells will keep milking victims for every cent they have as long as the mark keeps sending money.) As a happy footnote, the FBI and the RCMP working together arrested these guys and at least one of them spent a good deal of time in prison. I hope he enjoyed the experience.

So I appreciate the security efforts on behalf of their customers. But in this case, things went beyond the pale, and it should not have taken the better part of a day to get a simple wire transfer effectuated, especially when I was able to properly identify myself to multiple functionaries at Chase, all of whom promised that my problem had now been resolved.

All’s well that ended well, but just reeeee-ing into the void here because the experience was so frustrating.

Cat tax.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

To Protect Yourself from Common Scams, Do This


Be Very Careful with Cashier’s Checks!

Secret Shopper Bogus Check

These are extremely easy to forge on pre-printed forms available anywhere like Staples, Office Max, etc. All the criminal needs is a laser printer.

NEVER send money to someone who has sent you a cashier’s check until you have verified with your bank that it has cleared. If the check is bogus, you can also be arrested for passing fraudulent documents. This is a rare occurrence, but it has happened and probably will happen again.


Do Not Use Money Transfer Services with Unknown Persons


We’re talking here about Western Union, MoneyGram, and Green Dot MoneyPak cards, or anything else like it.

If you send money to a criminal with Western Union or a similar service, it’s gone. You can’t get it back. If a criminal asks you to buy a Green Dot MoneyPak card and send him/her the PIN, do not do it. Your money will be gone, and you won’t get it back.

These services irresponsibly enable fraudsters all over the world to perpetrate their scams on vulnerable or unwitting people. They should be regulated in much the same was as pawn shops.


Do not believe everything you read on the internet, or in your email box.

Scams are rampant. Criminals all around the world want your money, and they will stop at virtually nothing to get it. An example received just yesterday.


Do not click on links in emails.

If you’re curious about a link in an email, type the address in your URL box directly, like this:


If you click on a link directly in the email, you may be redirected to a bogus site:


In this example, the link that looks like it will go to a legitimate Walmart site is actually taking you to a questionable internet marketing website that is being used by criminals.


Do not click on attachments in emails unless you know who sent them.


This email looks like it has attached a .PDF file. However, any attachment can be deceptive. TXT files, DOC or DOCX files, PDF files, XLS or XLSX files, and many others – all can actually be .EXE files in disguise.

If you do not know who is sending you an attachment, never click on it.


Never pay money to collect a prize.

This just goes without saying. You can’t win a lottery or sweepstakes you didn’t enter. Legitimate lotteries or sweepstakes, and there are precious few of these, will never ask you for up-front money to collect a prize. Again, never send money to a stranger hoping to get a large payout. If you do, you are being robbed.


There is no Nigerian prince or government official who wants you to help get money out of the country.


This is the “419” fraud, so named for the section of the Nigerian legal code that makes this sort of scam illegal. None of the above schemes will work if people avoid sending money to strangers using Western Union or MoneyGram or other methods. This also applies to “reshipping work” or “lonely hearts” scams. At some point, all of them will ask you to send money somewhere. Don’t Do It!

There are more ways to get scammed and one post can’t cover them all, but if everyone would follow these few simple steps, the incidence of fraud would decrease dramatically. Protect your loved ones. Educate them, or watch over their finances. Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.