Justice Department, Partners Declare Largest Coordinated Sweep of Elder Fraud Cases in History

 

 

Victory State Bank, the only community-based business bank on Staten Island, is applauding the U.S. Department of Justice and law enforcement partners for their latest accomplishment in combating elder fraud.

On Thursday (Feb. 22), Attorney General Jeff Sessions and law enforcement partners announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history. The cases involve more than two hundred and fifty defendants from around the globe who victimized more than a million Americans, most of whom were elderly. 

The cases include criminal, civil, and forfeiture actions across more than 50 federal districts. Of the defendants, 200 were charged criminally. 

In each case, offenders engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused losses of more than half a billion dollars. The Department coordinated its announcement with the FTC and state Attorneys General, who independently filed numerous cases targeting elder frauds within the sweep period.

Attorney General Sessions was joined in the announcement by FBI Acting Deputy Director David Bowdich; Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell; FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen; and Kansas Attorney General and President of the National Association of Attorneys General Derek Schmidt.

“The Justice Department and its partners are taking unprecedented, coordinated action to protect elderly Americans from financial threats, both foreign and domestic,” said Attorney General Sessions.  “Today’s actions send a clear message: We will hold perpetrators of elder fraud schemes accountable wherever they are.  When criminals steal the hard-earned life savings of older Americans, we will respond with all the tools at the Department’s disposal – criminal prosecutions to punish offenders, civil injunctions to shut the schemes down, and asset forfeiture to take back ill-gotten gains. Today is only the beginning. I have directed Department prosecutors to coordinate with both domestic law enforcement partners and foreign counterparts to stop these criminals from exploiting our seniors.”

The actions charged a variety of fraud schemes, ranging from mass mailing, telemarketing and investment frauds to individual incidences of identity theft and theft by guardians. A number of cases involved transnational criminal organizations that defrauded hundreds of thousands of elderly victims, while others involved a single relative or fiduciary who took advantage of an individual victim. The schemes charged in these cases caused losses to more than a million victims.

"Winners. That’s what so many of the people who received these solicitations in the mail thought they were. But they’re not. They are victims of scams that Postal Inspectors have seen and investigated for decades. In fact, some of the same operators we encountered 20 years ago are back. But so are we. Yesterday, Postal Inspectors around the country executed search warrants on 12 locations that some of these same operators used to run their scams. We’re letting the American public know – and especially our vulnerable older Americans – that Postal Inspectors are working hard to protect them and ensure their confidence in the U.S. Mail,” said Chief Postal Inspector Cottrell.

“Over the last year, the FBI has initiated more than 200 financial crimes cases involving elderly victims who were devastated financially, emotionally, mentally and physically. Picking up the pieces of these fraud schemes can be equally as traumatizing for the caregivers of these elderly victims,” said Acting Deputy Director Bowdich.  “The FBI reminds seniors and their caregivers to be vigilant. If any person believes they are the victim of, or have knowledge of fraud involving an elderly person, regardless of the loss amount, they should report it to the FBI.”

ELDER FRAUD COMPLAINTS

Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at 
www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP.  The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of Victims of Crime, which can be reached at www.ovc.gov

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Avoid a Travel Scam

 

If you are thinking about taking a vacation and a seemingly great offer comes your way, don’t leap at the opportunity before doing some research, advises Victory State Bank.

Although some travel deals are legitimate, others are concocted by scammers seeking to steal your money, the financial institution warns.

The only community-based business bank on Staten Island advises that you be aware of these four travel scam tactics before agreeing to a travel arrangement, as explained in the U.S. General Services Administration’s “Consumer Action Handbook”:

            1)      Phone calls or emails that say you have “won” a free vacation – but you must pay a service fee in order to claim it.

 

2)      Scammers call selling fake vacation packages, putting pressure on you to “act now” to get a very low price.

 

3)      You qualify for travel at a low price – but find out about additional fees or requirements to book a second trip at a higher price.

 

            4)      You prepay for a vacation package, but when it is time to travel, the reservation doesn’t exist.

 

5 WAYS TO PROTECT YOURSELF:

 

            1)      Don’t pay for “free” vacation prizes.

 

2)      Ask questions before buying vacation packages, including cancellation policies.

 

3)      Verify ticket numbers with the airlines, cruiselines, and hotels, not just the reservation with the travel agency.

 

4)      Don’t give in to pressure to buy now. Do your research beforehand.

 

    5)      Use credit cards to book travel, so that you can dispute charges for services you didn’t receive.

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Tips for Selecting a Tax Preparer

 

 

Now that the tax season has arrived, have you chosen a tax preparer?

 To help you make the right choice, Victory State Bank is sharing these 10 tips from the IRS:

1)      Check the Preparer’s Qualifications. Use the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. This tool helps taxpayers find a tax return preparer with specific qualifications. The directory is a searchable and sortable listing of preparers. 

 

2)      Check the Preparer’s History. Ask the Better Business Bureau about the preparer. Check for disciplinary actions and the license status for credentialed preparers. For CPAs, check with the State Board of Accountancy. For attorneys, check with the State Bar Association. For Enrolled Agents, go to the verify enrolled agent status page on IRS.gov or check the directory.

 

3)      Ask about Service Fees. Avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of the refund or who boast bigger refunds than their competition. When asking about a preparer’s services and fees, don’t give them tax documents, Social Security numbers or other information. 

 

4)      Ask to E-File. Taxpayers should make sure their preparer offers IRS e-file. The quickest way for taxpayers to get their refund is to electronically file their federal tax return and use direct deposit. 

 

5)      Make Sure the Preparer is Available. Taxpayers may want to contact their preparer after this year’s April 17 due date. Avoid fly-by-night preparers.

 

6)      Provide Records and Receipts. Good preparers will ask to see a taxpayer’s records and receipts. They’ll ask questions to figure things like the total income, tax deductions and credits. 

 

7)      Never Sign a Blank Return. Don’t use a tax preparer who asks a taxpayer to sign a blank tax form.

 

8)      Review Before Signing. Before signing a tax return, review it. Ask questions if something is not clear. Taxpayers should feel comfortable with the accuracy of their return before they sign it. They should also make sure that their refund goes directly to them – not to the preparer’s bank account. Review the routing and bank account number on the completed return. The preparer should give you a copy of the completed tax return. 

 

9)      Ensure the Preparer Signs and Includes Their PTIN. All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. By law, paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.

 

10)   Report Abusive Tax Preparers to the IRS. Most tax return preparers are honest and provide great service to their clients. However, some preparers are dishonest. Report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a taxpayer suspects a tax preparer filed or changed their return without the taxpayer’s consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. 

 

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

Business Bank on Staten Island Spotlights 7 Red Flags of a Ponzi Scheme

 

 

Victory State Bank is reminding consumers to beware of the ever-present threat of Ponzi schemes.

As explained by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that pays existing investors with funds collected from new investors.

Ponzi scheme organizers often promise to invest your money and generate high returns with little or no risk. But in many Ponzi schemes, the fraudsters do not invest the money. Instead, they use it to pay those who invested earlier and may keep some for themselves.

With little or no legitimate earnings, Ponzi schemes require a constant flow of new money to survive. When it becomes hard to recruit new investors, or when large numbers of existing investors cash out, these schemes tend to collapse.

Ponzi schemes are named after Charles Ponzi, who duped investors in the 1920s with a postage stamp speculation scheme.

To help you avoid becoming a victim of such scams, Victory State Bank is sharing the following Ponzi Scheme warning signs as described the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:

  • HIGH RETURNS WITH LITTLE OR NO RISK

Every investment carries some degree of risk, and investments yielding higher returns typically involve more risk. Be highly suspicious of any “guaranteed” investment opportunity.

  • OVERLY CONSISTENT RETURNS

Investments tend to go up and down over time. Be skeptical about an investment that regularly generates positive returns regardless of overall market conditions.

  • UNREGISTERED INVESTMENTS

Ponzi schemes typically involve investments that are not registered with the SEC or with state regulators. Registration is important because it provides investors with access to information about the company’s management, products, services, and finances.

  • UNLICENSED SELLERS

Federal and state securities laws require investment professionals and firms to be licensed or registered. Most Ponzi schemes involve unlicensed individuals or unregistered firms.

  • SECRETIVE, COMPLEX STRATEGIES

Avoid investments if you don’t understand them or can’t get complete information about them.

  • ISSUES WITH PAPERWORK

Account statement errors may be a sign that funds are not being invested as promised.

  • DIFFICULTY RECEIVING PAYMENTS

Be suspicious if you don’t receive a payment or have difficulty cashing out. Ponzi scheme promoters sometimes try to prevent participants from cashing out by offering even higher returns for staying put.

 

 

 

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

How to Avoid Online Dating Scams

 

 

Victory State Bank, Staten Island’s only community-based business bank is sharing an important warning that sheds light upon online dating scams:

 

The American Bankers Association Foundation in collaboration with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released an infographic on the growing threat of such scams. According to the FBI, over $220 million was lost in 2016 to online romance scam artists.

Social media networks and dating websites have become increasingly popular tools for meeting and communicating. Unfortunately, fraudsters have capitalized on this trend and often create fake profiles to lure in victims, establish romantic relationships and eventually, extort money. Older Americans, in particular, have been targeted by this type of scam.

The infographic, available in both English and Spanish, identifies common signs of an online dating scam and offers consumers advice on how to avoid falling victim.

If you’re concerned that you or a loved one are being scammed, the ABA Foundation and FTC recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Slow down – and talk to someone you trust. Don’t let a scammer rush you. 

§  Never wire money, put money on a gift or cash reload card, or send cash to an online love interest. You won’t get it back.

§  Contact your bank right away if you think you’ve sent money to a scammer. 

 

REPORT YOUR EXPERIENCE TO:

§  The online dating site

§  FTC at ftc.gov/complaint FBI at ic3.gov

To view the infographic, visit aba.com/OnlineDatingScams.

 

About the ABA

The American Bankers Association is the voice of the nation’s $17 trillion banking industry, which is composed of small, midsize, regional and large banks that together employ more than 2 million people, safeguard $13 trillion in deposits and extend more than $9 trillion in loans.

 

About the ABA Foundation

Through its leadership, partnerships, and national programs, ABA’s Community Engagement Foundation (dba ABA Foundation), a 501(c)3, helps bankers provide financial education to individuals at every age, elevate issues around affordable housing and community development, and achieve corporate social responsibility objectives to improve the well-being of their customers and their communities.

 

About the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.