The Federal Reserve Bank of New York works to promote sound and well-functioning financial systems and markets through its provision of industry and payment services, advancement of infrastructure reform in key markets and training and educational support to international institutions.
The Outreach and Education function engages, empowers and educates the Second District communities that the Bank serves, especially civic leaders, students, educators, small business owners, policymakers and the general public. It furthers the Bank's commitment to the region by listening to the communities we serve and leveraging our unique attributes to positively impact school and university programs, as well as analysis and research.
New Email Scam Regarding Know Your Customer (KYC) Information
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has become aware of a scam involving unsolicited emails with the subject line “Important Information Regarding Your Account,” purportedly from the Federal Reserve Bank. The email falsely claims that an individual's bank has contacted the Federal Reserve regarding unauthorized transactions on their account. It explains the importance of the individual’s bank’s Know Your Customer (KYC) identification process and asks the individual to update their account through a provided link. We strongly recommend you do not open any links contained in this fictitious email.
Please note the Federal Reserve will never send unsolicited emails to the public asking for personal information.
New Email Scam Regarding "Suspicious Activity September 2013
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has become aware of a scam involving unsolicited emails regarding Suspicious Activity purportedly from a Federal Reserve Accounting Officer. The email falsely claims that an individual's bank has contacted the Federal Reserve regarding a suspicious incoming wire transfer and asks the individual to complete an attached form IIMT Form 401. We strongly recommend you do not open any links contained in this fictitious email.
Please note the Federal Reserve will never send unsolicited emails to the public asking for personal information. Additionally, the Federal Reserve will never contact the public regarding a suspicious wire transfer.
New Scam E-mail Regarding a Wire Transfer Accepted October 2012
Please be alert to a scam involving unsolicited e-mails that claim to be sent by a fictitious "Federal Reserve Bank Auto Informer".
The e-mails are a series of fraudulent e-mails sent to individuals, companies and governmental agencies claiming to have successfully sent wire transfers to the recipients. Some of these e-mails claim to be from the Federal Reserve located at a non-existent address in either Charlotte DC, Charlotte SC, or Charlotte NC. Some of these fraudulent e-mails have been sent by email@example.com.
These e-mails have been sent in waves for a variety of amounts. The attached sample exhibit is for an amount just over $4,200. Other fraudulent e-mails claim to have sent wire transfers in amounts just over $16,000 or $32,000.
Please note that the Federal Reserve will never send unsolicited e-mails regarding a Wire Transfer Accepted or any other type of payment. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and other Federal Reserve Banks will never contact the public via unsolicited phone calls or e-mails asking for money or any other type of personal information. Moreover, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and other Federal Reserve Banks will never contact the public regarding the issuance of a wire transfer.
Remain alert to scams involving individuals who claim to be New York Fed employees or employees of the Federal Reserve System.
Scam E-mail Regarding a "Waiver Deduction Procedure" May 2012
Please be alert to a scam involving unsolicited e-mails that claim to be sent by the Report Fraud Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The e-mail is one in a series of fraudulent e-mails. It uses the real name of the New York Fed president, while using a fake e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone number (1 347-708-1591) and fax number (1 347-270-8992).
Please note that there is no known Waiver Deduction Procedure.
The New York Fed will never contact the public via unsolicited phone calls or e-mails asking for money or any other type of personal information.
Remain alert to scams involving individuals who claim to be New York Fed employees.
Scams Involving High Yield Investment Programs—Often Involving Private Placement Programs/Medium Term Notes February 2012
For more than a decade, the Federal Reserve has been warning the public about fraudulent investment schemes that go by various names, but generically are known as High Yield Investment Programs (also known as "Private Placement Programs," "Capital Enhancement Programs," "Riskless Principal Trading Programs," "Federal Reserve Trading Programs" or "Bank Debenture Trading Programs"). These schemes continue to be used to target innocent investors. The programs purport to be highly secretive, but the marketer of the fraud scheme claims to have connections to the Federal Reserve or some other internationally renowned organization such as the United Nations, the IMF or the World Bank. The marketer claims that through these connections, members of the public can participate in very lucrative programs of investments involving various types of financial instruments, such as Medium Term Notes, standby letters of credit, and/or "prime bank" guarantees. These fraudulent "programs" are presented as legitimate investment vehicles being offered by traders or marketers with special "invitation only" access to the secret program operated by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Fraudsters claim that proceeds from the programs are slated for investment, often overseas. Fictitious letters with seemingly convincing letterhead are often used to convince targets that the programs are legitimate.
Targets are told that in order to participate they must provide the fraudster with verification of large (usually multi-million dollar) deposits in a personal bank account and copies of personal information containing pictures and signature information, such as drivers licenses or passports. The fraudsters usually give "guarantees," frequently in writing that the money will remain in the targets account, under his or her sole control, throughout the term of the program. However, the targeted victims are often asked to sign multiple bank documents that often allow the fraudster to act as a co-signer. This authority permits the scammer to wire transfer the money out of the account, despite the guarantee never to move the funds. In other instances, the fraudster has available to him the documentation necessary to impersonate the target and take the money from the designated account.
Employees of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Federal Reserve System will not offer investments to the general public. Furthermore, the Federal Reserve does not authorize, license, or sanction agents or traders to deal with the general public for High Yield Investment Programs.
The fraudsters market these schemes to investors in a number of ways, often describing overly complex and nonsensical transactions. Specifically, the fraudsters have been known to use some or all of the following false claims or descriptions in an attempt to enhance the credibility of the scam:
The Federal Reserve controls the issuance and distribution of the Medium-Term Notes or High Yield Investments offered—often as a means of controlling the monetary supply, or to enhance the economy of the United States.
The Federal Reserve issues the investments in a highly secretive and confidential manner, known to a select few only, and the scammer is one of the few who can access the program. For example, the scammer will claim that the trading of financial instruments takes place on such a secret market that the investors banker or investment adviser will not know about the investment opportunity because only a few special people around the world are aware of it or participate in the secret trading. Often the investor is told that since he/she is being allowed to participate in a secret trading program, if he/she reveals any information about the program, the investor's participation will be terminated.
The Federal Reserve uses this system to fund humanitarian/infrastructure or religious projects, with 50-80% of profits supposed to go to those projects (often claiming that the Federal Reserve has to approve the humanitarian project). The remaining percentage of profits can be retained by the investor as return on investment.
Most of the programs purport to involve a well-known bank, which the fraudster claims has already lined up a purchaser that will guarantee the investor a significant profit. The fraudulent investment programs often claim to have no risk because the program is guaranteed by that bank, providing the investor with the ability to sell the financial instrument at a pre-set buy-back price, locking in a profit.
Promises of extremely high, unrealistic rates of return with little or no risk. The contracts usually reference huge amounts, often in billions, even up to $1 trillion in annual contracts. False claims have stated that $100 million will produce $1 billion in profits in 1 year without risk to principal (riskless principal" transactions).
High rates of return are generated by repeatedly trading (or buying and selling) financial instruments in cycles (often over a 40-week period, or a 1-year period). The fraudulent investment programs may include automatic renewals (often called "rolls" and "extensions" for similar contract amounts). This automatic renewal feature provides the fraudster with a plausible excuse for why he/she cannot return the investors funds.
Claims that the investor's funds are absolutely safe and cannot be lostfor example, that a bank has issued a guarantee as described above, or an attorney is holding the funds in a special escrow fund or a trade settlement account that cannot be touched (often guaranteed to be of "non-depletion" status).
Claims that the cash does not move from the investors principal account, and that profits can be paid anywhere in the world, often outside the United States in so-called tax secrecy havens.
References to financial instruments issued by "prime banks," "top 100 world banks," "top 25 major banks of the world" or "top 25 European banks," and similar references to categories or groups of banks that are not used in the banking industry.
Terms that have no meaning in legitimate financial transactionsfor example, "conditional SWIFT," "key tested telex," "pay order," "funds of good, clean, clear and non-criminal origin," "master commitment," "one year and one day," and "commitment holder."
References to a traders computer screensoften with the claim that the color of the screen has something to do with the validity of the investment program.
Inaccurate references to the International Chamber of Commerce and its publications.
Scam Involving Fictitious Federal Reserve Grant January 2012
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is aware of an ongoing scam that involves fraudsters claiming to be from the Federal Reserve (sometimes using the name James Carter) contacting the public through unsolicited phone calls or emails regarding a fictitious $7000 federal grant. In most instances regarding this scam, the fraudsters require the victims to wire a certain sum of money (via Western Union or Moneygram) in order to receive the fictitious grant. The victim is told this money is needed for an application fee, a charitable donation or a processing fee in order for the fictitious grant money to be released. After the victim wires these funds, the victim is contacted again and requested to wire additional money for one final fee in order to receive the fictitious grant money. Of course, the victims will never receive any grant money as this program does not exist.
Please note the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is NOT involved in any federal grant program. We urge the public to remain alert to fraudulent scams involving individuals who purport to be employees of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York does not maintain grant money or any other type of funds / accounts for individuals.
Please remember: the Federal Reserve Bank of New York will never contact the public via unsolicited phone calls or e-mails asking for money or any other type of personal information.
Update to Scam Involving Fictitious Federal Reserve E-mail and Web Addresses October 2011
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is aware of continuous scams that use fictitious e-mail and web addresses purporting to be official Federal Reserve addresses. In some instances, unsolicited e-mails are sent to individuals regarding fictitious lottery winnings, bogus bank accounts and/or collateral that are claimed to be at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In other instances, the e-mail will ask individuals to click on links to receive more information about their fictitious account or a fictitious wire transfer they sent. We strongly recommend that you do not attempt to open these links as they might contain malicious code which could infect your computer.
Please remain alert to fraudulent scams involving individuals who purport to be employees of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Read the sections below for information on samples of various scams that have been attempted. Please note that below is an updated list of fraudulent e-mail addresses that are known to have been used in these scams.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York will never send an e-mail asking for personal information.
Scam Involving Fictitious Federal Reserve E-mail and Web Addresses March 2011
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is aware of many scams that use fictitious e-mail and web addresses purporting to be official Federal Reserve addresses. In some instances, unsolicited e-mails are sent to individuals from these addresses regarding fictitious bank accounts that they have at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In other instances, the e-mail will ask individuals to click on links to receive more information about their fictitious account or a fictitious wire transfer they sent. We strongly recommend that you do not attempt to open these links.
If you are contacted in an unsolicited e-mail from someone claiming to be from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, or if you have information relating to this or any fraud please send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Scam Involving Fraudulent Bonded Promissory Notes (BPNs) February 2010
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has become aware of numerous attempts to present fraudulent bonded promissory notes which reference a fictitious bond account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The fraudster claims to have a bond account in excess of $100,000,000 established at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (or at another Federal Reserve Bank) upon which he or she can issue bonded promissory notes as forms of legal payment for debt. Sometimes the fraudulent bonded promissory notes are remitted as payment for debts owed by the fraudster issuing the bond, while in other cases the fraudulent bonded promissory notes are used in attempts to pay the debts of third parties. Fraudsters have attempted to use fraudulent bonded promissory notes to pay for various items including automobiles, mortgage payoffs and medical and veterinarian bills.
These documents are fraudulent and will not be honored if presented.
A promissory note is a form of debt similar to a loan or an IOU. An individual (investor) makes an agreement to loan money to a company in exchange for a fixed return from the company, usually principal plus annual interest. While some promissory notes are indeed legitimate, they are rarely available to the general public. If the promissory note claims to be payable through an account held at a Federal Reserve Bank, the note is fraudulent.
How to Avoid a Promissory Note Scam Generally, agents selling promissory notes need to be licensed. You can verify whether the person trying to sell you a promissory note is licensed by contacting your state securities regulator: www.nasaa.org/QuickLinks/ContactYourRegulator.cfm
Most investments involving promissory notes need to be registered with the SEC. You should verify whether the promissory note is registered or exempt from registration by contacting the SEC, www.sec.gov.
The majority of legitimate promissory notes are not sold to the general public. If you are being contacted by phone by someone trying to sell you a promissory note, it is most likely a scam.
If the return rate seems too good to be true, the note is likely fraudulent.
Be wary of promises of risk free returns.
Click here to see a sample of a fraudulent promissory note.
If you have reason to believe you have invested in a fraudulent promissory note, you should contact your local FBI office.
Marco Peter Kunkel/Brandy Kelvin Advance Fee Scam September 2009
It has come to the attention of the New York Fed that there is a new advance fee scam being committed using the New York Fed name. An advance fee scam is a fraud that urges a target to send a specific sum of money to a person or entity up front in order to receive a larger amount of money. Many times the fraudster asks for the target’s personal information, including bank account information, in order to send this promised larger amount of money. Release of this personal information may facilitate identity theft.
The recent scam involves a fraudulent e-mail from persons purporting to be either employees or agents of the New York Fed, including Mr. Marco Peter Kunkel or Mrs. Brandy Kelvin. The e-mail informs the targets that an account has been opened in his or her name at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and that funds have been deposited in this account. The e-mail instructs the targets to pay a surcharge in order to activate this account and access the funds that have been deposited in their name. The e-mail will sometimes provide a username and password for the target to use to access this fictitious account, as well as wiring instructions for the surcharges. The e-mail will sometimes include fraudulent Federal Reserve documents, including fictitious identification cards of employees. The fraudsters have even begun to use the names of actual Federal Reserve Bank of New York employees in this scam.
If you are contacted in an unsolicited e-mail claiming that you have funds on deposit with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, or have information regarding this fraud please contact Kristin Sturm or Robert Amenta in the Investigations Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. They can be reached at the following
e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scam Involving the Use of Actual Federal Reserve Bank of New York Employees Names in Unsolicited E-mails April 2009
Please be alert to a fraudulent scam involving individuals who claim to be actual Federal Reserve Bank of New York employees in unsolicited e-mails to defraud the public.
In most versions of the scam, the fraudster poses as a Federal Reserve Bank of New York employee and falsely claims that the individual contacted has millions of dollars on deposit with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Then the fraudster tries to get the individual to pay a fee, sometimes $950, in order to obtain these (fictitious) funds. The fee will be stolen by the fraudster, and no funds will be provided to person paying this fee.
Click to see various samples of this fraudulent scheme:
Details of this Fraud Scheme In many instances, the fraudster claims that the (fictitious) funds were “with-held due to improper and un-official payment documentations, lack of proper verification documents from the beneficiary to ascertain the legality, source/origin and authenticity of these funds.” The fraudster claims that their need for proper documentation will require the payment of a fee, which is then stolen by the fraudster.
These e-mails are part of an elaborate scam to lure the public into making payments to the scammer for fictitious documents that the scammer claims are necessary to release the (fictitious) funds. The fraudster often claims that to obtain payment of these funds, the individual must remit a “Subsidized Charge” fee, sometimes in the amount of $950, for a “Payment Documentation / Payment Confirmation” service. Other times the scammer asks for a fictitious “Tax Clearance Receipt” which allegedly “will officially enable and allow us officially to release your payment to you.”The fraudster usually requests that the funds be sent via Western Union or Money Gram. These systems allow the fraudster to pick up the fee in various jurisdictions around the world, even though the remitter believes that the funds are being picked up in New York by an employee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The fraudulent scheme includes multiple documents purportedly signed by various senior officials of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The e-mails usually contain sham e-mail addresses and phone numbers that are not assigned to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In some instances, these documents request personal information from the individuals receiving the e-mails, possibly for identity theft purposes. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York does not maintain accounts or funds on deposit for individuals, or non- financial institutions. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York will never send an e-mail asking for personal information.
If you are contacted in an unsolicited e-mail claiming that you have funds on deposit with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, or have information regarding this fraud please contact Robert Amenta, Senior Special Investigator at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He can be reached at the following e-mail address: email@example.com
Scam Involving Fraudulent Checks Purporting to be From a University of Illinois Account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York March 2009
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has recently become aware of a large number of fraudulent checks presented for processing through the Federal Reserve system. The checks purport to be from the University of Illinois and bear a Tampa, Florida address, rather than an Illinois address. These sham checks claim to be drawn on a University of Illinois account allegedly maintained at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, routing number 021001208.
These sham checks are usually made out to individuals in the United States in amounts between $3,500 and $4,800. It appears that these checks originate from overseas. In some instances the checks are received by individuals trying to sell items on eBay or craigslist. In those instances, the checks received by the sellers are in amounts exceeding the cost of the goods, with the "Purchaser" requesting that the seller remit the overage back to the buyer, less a small fee for their inconvenience. In other instances, "new employees" are solicited to engage in check cashing activities, keeping a fee and remitting the remainder via a money remitter.
These checks are fraudulent. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York does not offer commercial account services of this type.
If you receive a check purporting to be from a University of Illinois account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or have information regarding this fraud please contact Robert Amenta, Senior Special Investigator at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.