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Washington
Check fraud is 2009 big-growth area for SARs
VIENNA, Va. (1/25/10)—Mid-year numbers for 2009 indicate a shifting focus of suspicious activity reports (SARs) with a 19% increase in check-fraud reports and a 36% jump in counterfeit check SARs filed by credit unions and other depository institutions. Those figures, provided by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN’s) most recent “SAR Activity Review-By the Numbers” report released Friday, also revealed the following: SARs filed by money services businesses showed a 76% increase in suspected fraud involving Traveler's Checks; SARs filed by casinos indicated an 18% rise in suspicious activity involving checks; and, there was a 19% spike in SARs by the securities and futures industries involving check fraud. The figures result from a comparison to activity for the corresponding time periods from the previous year. A much smaller increase—just one percent—was noted for SARs filings indicating suspected mortgage loan fraud. However, FinCEN underscored that sustpected mortgage fraud reports remain at a historically high level. Prior to the current report, mortgage-fraud SARs witnessed six straight years of double-digit growth. "FinCEN remains focused on its proactive efforts to assist state, local and federal investigators in efforts to use SARs to crack down on mortgage fraud and foreclosure rescue scams, and to identify other emerging trends and patterns," said FinCEN Director James H. Freis, Jr. in a release accompanying the report. "Fraudulent and criminal activity is seldom static and predictable, each financial industry sector has an important role to play in identifying these activities."
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