A recent commercial on tv highlighted a new app to be launched in the near future, perhaps as early as this summer. The app will allow a smart phone user to take a picture of a check to be deposited, and transmit the picture to their bank. The user will not have to physically go to the bank, nor present the actual check for deposit with the bank.
I see the convenience of this app, being able to open your mail and make your deposits without ever leaving your house. This could be especially handy during inclement weather, or if you have family members under your care who can’t be left alone (young children, older adults).
However, I would be remiss as a fraud examiner if I didn’t ponder how this new app could effect the incidents of fraud. A real problem already exists with counterfeit, altered and stolen checks being cashed and/or deposited, along with multiple types of scams, including one whereby unsuspecting individuals are solicited to deposit checks, only to retain a portion and transmit the residual funds. Often to perpetrate schemes involving counterfeit, altered or stolen checks, individuals (“mules”) are drafted to receive, cash or deposit the checks. Once completed, the individuals forward the funds received to their “employer.”
The present schemes rely on tellers, clerks and other “live” individuals who handle cashing or depositing checks to look for signs indicating the checks may be counterfeit, altered or stolen. With the release of the new app, there will be no teller interactions.
It will be interesting to see what safeguards are put into place with this new app, and also how long before this scheme is exploited once the app is released.