Multiple banks in Warren and Montgomery Counties in Missouri issue scam and fraud alerts to residents in Warrenton and Wright City.
Banks from Montgomery and Warren counties are asking residents to be more protective of their bank accounts since scams have been increasing recently.
There are nine banks in Montgomery County and eight in Warren County. Jonesburg State Bank is located in Warrenton, Jonesburg and Montgomery City. There are American Bank locations in Warrenton, Wright City, Montgomery City, Wellsville and Middletown.
Dan Robb, president and CEO of Jonesburg State Bank, said people have been falling for scams that are costing them tens of thousands of dollars in cash.
“For some reason, this method has really risen in the recent months,” Robb said. “It’s happening at probably all our banks in the area. We had a meeting (on the morning of Aug. 24) and discussed how many customers are not even telling us they got scammed because people get embarrassed when they lose a large amount of money when they finally figured out that it’s not legitimate as to what is happening.”
Robb said during the staff meeting, the employees were given tips on how to handle customers who are withdrawing cash.
“We have to be very cautious,” Robb said. “We want to provide good customer service. We don’t want to get too involved in someone’s personal life that they’re needing a large amount of cash for something personally. But yet, we feel that it is our jobs as bankers to try to protect the best that we can. These are large sums of money the customers are losing. We’re trying to provide as much training as possible for the staff to have communications with customers when they want large amounts of cash.”
Robb said his bank had three customers within the last month who fell for a scam.
“Typically, these scammers are either international, out of the country or out of state,” Robb said. “A lot of times, they will ask people to mail packages and people would actually put cash in boxes and mail it out of state. The worst one was when a person went to a Dollar General parking lot (in Jonesburg) and was on the phone with a scammer. They said this vehicle would pull in, roll down the back window, put the box in the back seat, walk away and don’t interact with the driver of this vehicle. We had the Jonesburg Police involved in that.”
Mark Laune, president and CEO of Peoples Savings Bank, said the Missouri Bankers Association and the Missouri Independent Bankers Association are two different organizations that help banks become aware of scamming.
“Bankers talk a lot,” Laune said. “We’re all involved in different forms. We bounce ideas off of each other all of the time and we discuss different ways to address issues. Fraud and scam are at the forefront of everybody’s right now because they are big issues. It is becoming increasingly more prevalent in our areas.”
Adrian Breen, a former NFL player who has been president and CEO at the Bank of Missouri for almost seven years, said he has been communicating with the other banks about the concerns of scams.
“There are constantly what we call bad actors out there and they are trying to scam somebody, whether it’s on the internet or check fraud,” Breen said. “It’s coming back here this past year more so than it has in prior years. So I think that it is widespread. We’ve been very fortunate. We had a couple of incidents, but we were very excited to partner with Dan and some of the other banks in the area to get the word out. What makes the bad actors even worse is sometimes they try to prey on other people’s good side or their kindness. They wound up getting exploited and being taken advantage of. That’s a tough one for people to realize.”
Breen, who has been working in the banking industry for 36 years, said the best thing the customers need to do to avoid scams is monitor their accounts.
“I’m a banker,” Breen said. “My family does that. We kind of take that for granted. But I think just about every bank out there has online capability now where you can go in and see what activity is going on in your account. Stay diligent, have a great relationship with your local bank, look out for alerts and irregularities in your account and you’ll be in good shape.”
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