You're not as old as you look! (retirement check fraud) (Fraud Findings)

Author:Palmer, Roger D.

"WHY WOULD one of your employees be trying to deposit a check for over $27,000?"

A bank employee, attempting to verify authenticity of a check presented for deposit, posed the question to a networking contact, an investigator for a major insurance company. "Is it a claims check," the investigator asked, "or is the check drawn on one of our accounts?"

"No, it's drawn on a trust fund from New York City. The customer claims it's a retirement check," was the response from the banker.

After the investigator told the bank employee he knew of no reason to doubt the authenticity of the check, the customer was allowed to deposit the check.

Curiosity got the better of the investigator, who immediately opened a case regarding the validity of the retirement check. His first call was to the Human Resources Department, which confirmed that it had processed early retirement forms for the individual. But the company only offered early retirement to employees at least 55 years of age, and the employee's birth date in the data base the investigator was looking at showed the employee to be only 47!

The Human Resources manager offered a logical explanation. The employee had corrected his age about five years before, and apparently that particular data base had never been corrected. The employee had presented a birth certificate at that time, and appropriate corrections had been made. According to the birth certificate, the employee's current age was 57, fully qualifying him for early retirement. The necessary documents had been properly completed and filed.

His curiosity still not satisfied, the investigator decided to seek independent verification of the individual's age from sources of information available to the public. The federal school census records, state motor vehicle records, and a birth announcement in the employee's hometown newspaper all confirmed that the employee was 47, not 57 as he claimed.

* So What Happened?

The Human Resources manager showed the investigator the photocopy of the birth certificate and agreed that there was a problem. The investigator referred the case to law enforcement contacts.

When questioned by law enforcement officers, the suspect produced a very poor copy of an obviously altered birth certificate, complete with a large glob of correction fluid where "1940" had been changed to "1930." The officers immediately read the suspect his rights.

The employee was charged with making a false writing, a criminal felony charge. He...

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