REDC Facilitates Meeting For Commissioner Troy Downing

On Wednesday, Aug. 23, REDC participated in an informational meeting with Montana's Commissioner of Securities & Insurance (CSI), Troy Downing. Downing and his team were traveling across Montana to spread the word regarding scams and fraudulent activities that his office is seeing. Downing reported, "One of the biggest financial frauds that our office sees, is upon our senior population. Today we are going to talk about "red flags", what our office does, the resources that we have, and how we aim to protect Montanans."

"The single most prevalent means that we see being used in scams and fraud is cryptocurrency. The Securities Exchange Commission has said that cryptocurrency are securities that should be regulated as such." There is no regulatory authority overseeing the transactions, no banks, and they are untraceable.

In Montana, the fraudsters are contacting seniors through their cell phones. They inform them that they have installed child pornography on the phone, and will be contacting the authorities unless they deposit money into a cryptocurrency ATM. There are startling numbers of these ATMs across the state.

The Commissioner gave a laundry list of "red flags" to watch for as fraudulent or suspicious activities:

1. Non-traditional payments: gift cards, cryptocurrency, money grams.

2. Secret apps: "what's apps".

3. Exclusivity: "only for you".

4. Compelled silence through fear: "don't tell anyone".

5. Time sensitivity: must happen now, very urgent.

6. Unrealistic returns or interest rates: "you'll make so much money".

Scams against our seniors are not being reported, only 1 in 44 cases. Mainly due to embarrassment and shame. "We do have one new resource, the Lynne Egan restitution fund, which is a pool of money funded through the fines that we have levied, and we can use this to assist eligible Montanans with partial restitution."

At the end of the meeting, the Commissioner acknowledged the representatives from Stockman Bank and Yellowstone Bank. These folks are our local resources on the front lines protecting our residents and their interests. Misty Anderson, Stockman Bank, touched on the types of fraud that her department has seen. Currently, cases of romance or grandparent schemes, mailed checks out of the blue, e-mobile deposits, identity thefts, computer hacks and clicking on links.

Once the situation has been reported to Anderson's department, they ask questions: "What is the check for?", "Were you expecting it?" "Do you know this person?". They also look back over the activities in the accounts to determine the history. They verify funds from other banks, such as checks out of the blue.

Anderson encouraged the group not to call a number on a computer screen regarding a suspicious request or problem, but to come directly to the bank with the concern. She also provided a large stack of flyers covering the many types of scams: IRS Imposter, Tech Support, Grandparent, Social Security, and Money Mules Fraud. This information is free and available at your local financial institutions.

If you are a victim of a scam or identity theft, there is also a booklet called "identity Theft: A Recovery Plan" which outlines the many things that you can do to get the assistance you need. These are available at financial institutions as well.

REDC is pleased to have facilitated this meeting for Commissioner Downing and his team. We take great comfort knowing that our local banks are on top of these activities with resources to help. We have copies of the information gathered from the meeting at our office. If you would like to learn more, contact us at 406-482-4679.


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