“So what do you do now?” She straightened up as she asked this and smoothed out the napkin in her lap. Her manner became business-like. “You want my help. OK, what do you need to know? Fire away.”
“Can you think of anything at all that might be unusual about the money transfers that you made this month?”
“You mean my automatic utility payments, right? No, nothing unusual.”
“These utility payments are automatically deducted from you checking account every month?”
She nodded her head in the affirmative. Then she added that she had been paying her bills in that way for close to a year with no troubles up until now.
“But,” she added, “when I was there yesterday the guy at the bank claimed I also recieved a payment by automatic deposit, and that it was not from my employer. While the bank won’t tell me who the payment is from, I can assure I was not expecting any money transfers from anybody.”
“That must be the windfall that makes the bank suspect you. Did they tell you how much it was for?”
Then her face suddenly lit up. “Hey!” she exclaimed, “you can probably find out can’t you? Did you keep the file of EFT’s that you recorded? I would also be curious to know who it is from.”
Indeed I had kept the file. “Yes I have the file. I want to take a closer look at it tonight. Can you think of any clues I should look for? Say, for example, EFT’s to or from a particular person? Also, what are all the payments you made on or around the 11th? That includes paper checks as well as automatic debits. I need to be able to recognize a discrepency between honest activity and illegitemate EFT’s.”
“All I can think of is my gas bill and electric bill. I don’t know off-hand how much those two payments should be for. Also, I’m not even sure what days the automatic payments are made, so I do not even know if either one of those payments should have been made on the 11th. I can check my bills from last month and at least give you estimates.”
“Do that. And please get back to me with the information,” I said as I pulled a pen from my pants pocket and scribbled my phone number on a paper napkin. Pushing the napkin over to her, I continued to press gently for details. “Remember, it isn’t just automatic payments that we need to think about; have you written any checks within the last two weeks that might have cleared on the 11th?”
“Well yes, I am sure I have written several checks recently, and any number of them might have gone through that day. Again, I will have to get back to you with details after I have had a chance to look at my checkbook.” She took an address book out of her handbag and copied the phone number from the napkin to her book.
I wanted to make sure we did not overlook anything. “While you are thinking about those things,” I said, “also try to think of any automated payments you might have recieved legitamately. I’m sure you’ve already given that quite a bit of thought since the bank has given you ample motivation to do so. Nonetheless…” I let the suggestion trail off.
“The bank said that they do not care about any paper checks I recieved and cashed, only automatic payments.”
“Good,” I exclaimed. “That helps. It means that the suspicious EFT is for an automatic deposit and not part of a check truncation whereby a paper check you deposit is converted into an electronic transfer.