Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Funding terrorists with your local tax dollars?

There has been a disturbing series of stories out of the Albany NY area recently that have not appeared on the major national news radar yet but deserve a higher profile.

It seems someone, or group of someone's has been counterfeiting Albany County government checks for some rather large amounts and trying to pass them overseas.

If these checks had originated in Nigeria I wouldn't have thought anything of it. That they originated in 4 areas of the world associated with various terrorist groups sets one's mind to wondering...

Its good that Albany county eventually wised up and put countermeasures in place, but that suggests a much more interesting question.

If its happening in Albany, its probably happening elsewhere. Are private citizen's checking accounts being targeted? Is an isolated fix of the type Albany implemented reasonable on a national level to prevent such chicanery? Probably not.

Might it be better to implement a two-tiered national system where the default setting is that people's checks can ONLY be paid out to a US based bank? If people need to pay overseas regularly, then let them explicitly give authorization to enable that sort of transaction against their accounts, or setup a separate account for only paying overseas bills.

If these guys had been a little less greedy and sent through a series of checks in the $500 range they probably would have flown right through the system without question.

Incident #1
A resident of India tried to cash a counterfeit Albany County government check for $153,000 at a bank in his homeland, but the scheme was intercepted this week by Bank of America, County Comptroller Michael Conners said Friday.

Before authorizing payment, Bank of America detected the fraud because the bogus check had the same number as a legitimate check issued by the county in September for $125, Conners said[...]

[...]On Dec. 18, a county check for $153,000.89, bearing Conners' signature, was deposited in an account at Canara Bank, an Indian bank, by M. Raja Paranthaman, who listed the state of Tamil Nadu as his address.
Tamil Nadu is a south eastern Indian state. The one closest to Sri Lanka, home of the Tamil Tiger terrorist group. Coincidence? Perhaps, perhaps not.

Incident #2
Another week and another Albany County government counterfeit check has turned up in a foreign bank, again for $150,000 -- this time in Malaysia.

As it did last week, Bank of America, the county's bank, intercepted the bogus check, refused to make good on it and on Wednesday sent it to County Comptroller Mike Conners[...]

[...]Both checks were cut on the same day, Sept. 27, to the elections inspectors who worked Primary Day, and both checks were used in the counterfeit attempt on the same day, Nov. 30.

The new counterfeit check was made out to Matnoor Bin Sallah of Penang, Malaysia, for $150,000.50 and deposited at DBS Bank Ltd., Woodlands Branch, Singapore. It was processed through Wachovia, a bank holding company[...]
Several terrorist groups are operating out of Malaysia. The most high profile perhaps being Jemaah Islamiyah.

Incident #3
For the third time in a week, a bogus Albany County government check has surfaced, this time in Pakistan. The newest counterfeit check was for $35,000 -- considerably less than the first two. A photocopy of the check was turned over today to County Comptroller Michael Conners by Bank of America officials as were the other two[...]

Incident #4
Another bogus Albany County government check turned up Tuesday -- for $160,000 in a Saudi Arabian bank -- the fourth one in less than two weeks.

Also Tuesday, after repeated urging by the county comptroller, the county finally agreed to institute a new security system[...]

[...]The county Department of Finance, which cuts the checks that bear Conners' signature, agreed to ask the bank to put in place a procedure known as "positive pay," Conners said. "The mechanism protects county taxpayers from a check being honored in error. The transition can be electronically checked for check number, amount and date, and the service is free."

The latest fake check, made out to Ali Jassem Nasser Albrahimalhaji of Riyadh, carried the same number as a legitimate check, which has yet to be deposited, Conners said.

Deputy County Comptroller Billy Curran said the outstanding legitimate check was cut in August for $27.91 to a local company he declined to name, and because that check has yet to be presented to a bank "it may have been stolen."[...]


Anonymous said...

There are a half dozen or so interpretations, assumptions and conclusions drawn in your post prior to you quoting your first example.

Not one of these is based on an understanding of what is involved in this type of fraud or what the type of scenario described implies.
You literally got everything wrong.

"If its happening in Albany, its probably happening elsewhere"

Well yes, it is happening elsewhere. Everywhere where there are amatuer criminals with access to the same check template those individuals used. You could achieve international recognition for your own home town by scanning one of your own personal cheques in high resolution and posting it to a usenet newsgroup.

However the entire point of your post appeared to be that it WASN'T happening in Albany but in certain other foreign locations, the details of which apparently troubled you due to their real and imagined geographic links with terrorist activity.

The concept apparently being that terrorist hot-spots are one thing but when those sorts of areas also start experiencing other crimes like fraud, well oh my, that would be cause to stand up and take notice.

Purple Avenger said...

However the entire point of your post appeared to be that it WASN'T happening in Albany

Perhaps because the checks were deposited overseas? Silly me.

ut when those sorts of areas also start experiencing other crimes like fraud, well oh my, that would be cause to stand up and take notice.

Four incidents with Albany County checks within a month. Pure coincidence I'm sure.

You anonymous assertions have really eased my concern. Not.

I suggest you learn the semantic meaning of the question mark punctuation symbol in the English language. Its important.