ABILENE, Texas (BigCountryHomepage.com) – Some Big Country bank customers have become victim to scammers in recent weeks. Big Country Homepage spoke with two Abilene bank fraud professionals who say it’s not the victim’s fault – scammers are now smarter than ever.


Randy Roewe, Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer of First Financial Bank:

“Well, we’ve seen a real uptick in attacks against our citizens, and these attacks comes through email or texts on phones where it appears to be from a legitimate company.

“It could be from a bank, it could be from an online retailer. Bad guys are getting smarter because they will spoof, which means they’ll trick. For instance, they’ll send a text and then if they call you, it may look like it’s coming from a bank or some legitimate business. And so people trust caller ID. And they think it’s the bank, or they think it’s… a business when it’s really not. They’re just – they’re tricking, or changing, the caller ID to make you think that, so that you’ll answer it.

“If you receive these things or you’re talking to somebody, never give away passwords. Never give away what we call ‘secure access code,’ which means somebody’s trying to log into your online banking, and it sends a code back to your text.

“Never do those things. Never talk to a belligerent person that calls you, because these crooks can be very rude and pushy. Just hang up and call the entity you think.

“For example, if you think you’re talking to the bank… Call the bank! Y’know, hang up and call the bank. There’s nothing wrong with hanging up to a belligerent.

“Crooks don’t accept deposits and then withdraw the cash and go buy gift cards, or go down to a convenience store and buy cryptocurrency through a cryptocurrency ATM, or transfer it through a P-to-P (person-to-person) app like you might have on your cell phone.

“Don’t lie to a banker. If you come in, if you’ve received some money or you’ve talked to someone that you’re not familiar with, and they’re giving you very specific directions about how to communicate with a banker and essentially telling you to lie to the banker, you know there’s a crook on the other end.

“If you get emails or texts that have the word kindly in them, that’s 99% positive, or a huge red flag that’s coming from a crook.

“Or if you receive an email or a text that directs you to pay in USD, which means US Dollars… Who in the United States would – if I want you to pay me $5,000, I don’t put USD. That’s a foreign entity or somebody directing you in what type of currency to pay you.

The first thing, if somebody has been swindled out of money or tricked, don’t be ashamed. This happens a lot. Go to your bank or go to your financial institution, or go call your credit card, whoever the transaction went through, and let them know as soon as possible. There is chances. I mean, we have a chance to recover that funds, but we have to know as soon as possible.

“People who have been victims of scams are smart people, and a lot of people. If I were to tell you that I was a victim of a particular scam, as I walk through that story, the other person might say, ‘well, how did you fall for that?’ And so there’s a lot of shame, a lot of embarrassment they don’t want to talk to people about, including their family members or their bank.”

Gary Heslep, Fraud Investigator for First Financial Bank:

“We encounter, I would say, multiple. I don’t have a number, but several during a day.

“We have a phrase that we use pretty regularly: ‘If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.’ So, if you get an offer for some sort of financial windfall, but that you have to contribute something to it, too, then it’s probably a scam.

“You get a text message or an email, or something that says that you’ve been billed for a product that you didn’t order, don’t call the numbers that are associated with this notice. Find a legitimate number and notify your banker that this has happened, and they can probably help you.

“In the last day-and-a-half, we’ve had, I would say, in the neighborhood of 20 situations involving some sort of fraud. It may maybe more than that. We lose track at some point.”

Bottom line, if you feel you may be victim to a scam attempt, call your bank or notify your local authorities.