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Recent Scams and Alerts


 IMPORTANT:  Liberty State Bank DOES NOT ask for account numbers, passwords, or Social Security numbers through e-mail.  If you have received e-mails asking for your personal information please delete them immediately.

Protect Yourself and Be Proactive about Online Safety!

OnGuardOnline.gov provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on-guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.


• "Phishing" Scams

• Grandparent Scam-Wire Fraud

• Fake Check Scams 

  "Phishing" Scams

When Internet scammers go casting about for people's financial information, "phishing" (pronounced fishing) is one of the newest ways to lure unsuspecting.  Phishing, also called "carding," is a high-tech scam that uses spam to deceive consumers into disclosing their credit-card numbers, bank-account information, social security numbers, passwords, and other sensitive information.

Here's how it works:  The consumer receives an e-mail that claims to be from businesses the potential victim deals with, such as: their Internet service provider, on-line payment service, or bank.  The fraudsters tell the consumer to "update" or "validate" their billing information to keep the account active, and a link directs the consumer to a "look-alike" website of the legitimate business, further tricking the consumer into thinking it is a bona fide request.  Unknowingly, consumers submit their financial information - not to the businesses, but to the scammers, who use it to order goods and services and obtain credit.  The consumer has just become a victim of identity theft.

Sometimes scammers pose as the IRS.  In recent months, some taxpayers have received e-mails that appear to come from the IRS.  A typical e-mail notifies a taxpayer of an outstanding refund and urges the taxpayer to click on a hyper link and visit an official-looking Web site.  The Web site then solicits a social security and credit card number.  In a variation of this scheme, criminals have used e-mail to announce to unsuspecting taxpayers they are "under audit" and could make things right by divulging selected private financial information.  Taxpayers should take note:  The IRS does not use e-mail to initiate contact with taxpayers about issues related to their accounts.  However, if a taxpayer has any doubt whether a contact from the IRS is authentic, the taxpayer should always first call 1-800-829-1040 to confirm it.

To avoid getting caught by these scams, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • If you get an e-mail that warns you, with little or no notice, that an account of yours will be shut down unless you reconfirm your billing or other information, do not reply or click on the link in the e-mail.  Instead, contact the company cited in the e-mail using the telephone number or website address you know to be genuine.
  • Avoid e-mailing personal and financial information.  Before submitting financial information through a website, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar.  It signals that your information is secure during transmission.
  • Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges.  If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
  • Recent phishing scams cleverly copied the web pages of well-known companies like E-bay, Pay Pal, and Financial Institutions.  Using these authentic looking but fake web pages, the con-men then collected personal information from Internet consumers who thought they were visiting the real E-Bay, Pay-Pal or their Financial Institution.
  • If you have any doubt about the authenticity of e-mails requesting financial, personal, or other confidential information, OR if you think you have been scammed, please contact us with your questions or concerns.

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  Grandparent Scam-Wire Fraud

"Grandma? Is that you? This is Joe."

"–Yes, are you okay?"

"No, I'm in jail — in Canada.  I had a car accident and they arrested me.  Now I need money to get out of jail.  Please don't tell mom and dad, I want to tell them myself when I get home.  Will you help me?"

This is only one variation of the scam.  However, telephone calls like this are happening right here in North Dakota.  Imposters are calling senior citizens identifying themselves as their grandchild and requesting money for an emergency situation.  The con artist asks the grandparent to to wire money to Canada for the fees or fines the alleged grandchild has to pay to be released from jail or to re-enter the United States.

In one call, the fake "grandchild" was crying very hard because he had been arrested in Canada and needed money for bail.  The target victim did not recognize the voice and was wary until the caller asked "Grandma, do you know who this is"? At that point, the grandmother asked, "Is this Sam?" The caller then had the grandchild's name.  Pretending to be her grandchild he told her he had been arrested and the authorities had taken his passport and credit cards so he had no way to make bail.  She was instructed to go to the nearest Western Union or Money Gram and wire $2,900.00 to him in Canada.  Fortunately, she recognized some flags, contacted other family members, and determined her grandson was not in Canada.

Here are tips to help you avoid this scam:

  • Do not fill in the blanks for the caller.  They do not know the names of the grandchildren, but are relying on their victim to provide that information.  Ask them to give their name to you.  If you do not provide them any information, they will likely hang up.
  • Verify the whereabouts of family members by calling other family members or the grandchild they claim to be.  Do not use telephone numbers provided by the caller.
  • Never send money unless you have verified that your relative is really in trouble.
  • Never give out personal identifying information such as bank account credit card account numbers to anyone you do not know.

Keep in mind with the many sources of public information at their fingertips, these con artists can easily find out basic information about people and use it to their advantage.  They may read obituaries, go into social networking sites of the Internet, or use other sources to find out just enough details to pull off their scam.

Most importantly, remember once the money is sent by a wire transfer, there is no way to stop the transaction.  If the money is sent to a foreign country, U.S. authorities have no jurisdiction to pursue the matter.  Authorities rarely, if ever, recover the consumer's payment.

If you think you have been scammed, please contact us with your questions or concerns.

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   Fake Check Scams

Wow!  You just got your mail and there was a letter with a check in the amount of $3,550.00 inside from a company in Hometown USA.  The letter says you won the International Lottery for $380,000.00!  All you need to do is cash the check and wire the money to a location that will be disclosed to you after you have the cash in your hands.  You are guaranteed that once they receive your payment, you will get your prize.

ONE PROBLEM - It is a scam.  The check is counterfeit and if you wire the money, usually to a foreign country—you will lose it!  You will have to reimburse the bank for the full amount of the check and could face criminal charges for presenting a fake check to them in the first place.

There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back—that is a clear sign it is a scam.

There are many variations to the fake check scam circulating today.  Usually they start with someone offering to:

  • Buy something you advertised for sale-either in the paper or online;
  • Pay you to work at home – Mystery Shopper, bookkeeping, etc;
  • Give you an 'advance' on a sweepstakes or lottery you have won; or
  • Give you the first installment on millions you will receive for agreeing to transfer money in a foreign country to your bank account for safekeeping.

Fake check scammers hunt for victims.  They scan newspapers and online ads for people listing items for sale, and check postings on online job sites from people seeking employment.  They place their own ads with telephone numbers or email addresses for people to contact them.  And they call or send emails or faxes to people randomly, knowing some will bite on their offer.

REMEMBER, you are responsible for the checks you deposit.  These fake checks look so good even the most alert bank tellers may not recognize the chick is counterfeit.  These checks look real because the scammers are using high quality printers and scanners to produce the checks, have authentic-looking watermarks, and use the names and address of legitimate financial institutions and may even have real bank and account routing numbers listed.

Under federal law, banks must make the funds you deposit available quickly – usually within 5 days.  But just because you can withdraw the money does not mean the check is good, even if it looks like a cashier's or money order form the post office.  Forgeries can take weeks to be discovered.

When a check or money order bounces, you owe your bank the money you withdraw.  The bank may be able to take the amount owed from your accounts or sue you to recover it.  In some cases, law enforcement may get involved and charges could be filed against the victim because it may look like they were involved in the scam.

Here is how to avoid a counterfeit check scam:

  • Throw away any offer that asks you to pay for a prize or gift.  If it's free or a gift, you shouldn't have to pay for it.
  • Resist the urge to enter foreign lotteries.  It is ILLEGAL to play a foreign lottery through the mail or the telephone.
  • Know who you are dealing with, and NEVER wire money to strangers.
  • If you are selling something, do not accept a check for more than the selling price.
  • As a seller you can suggest an alternative way for the buyer to pay, like an escrow service or online payment center.
  • If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, end the transaction immediately.
  • Resist any pressure to 'act now'.  If the buyer's offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears.

DO NOT REPLY to a fake check scam, please contact us with your questions or concerns.

Further information on Fake Check Scams can be found by logging on to

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