When Abby Niemann, a loan assistant, first got the email, it looked normal. It was a wire transfer request, a big one, for $120,000. It was supposedly sent from a customer, the owner of a farming business in Sisseton, SD. Eddie Sheeley, a VP Business and VIP Banker at Choice Financial in Fargo, was CC’d on the email, as per usual.
But something seemed slightly off to Eddie and Abby. Something in the way the email was written, Eddie said. He gave the customer a call to verify the wire transfer.
“They had no idea where that email came from,” Eddie said. “It was an immediate red flag.”
It was clear that the customer’s email system had been hacked. Eddie called Cally Murphy, Choice Financial’s eServices Specialist, to verify what had happened.
“It was definitely fraud,” Cally said. “The email system was hacked and their account information was compromised.”
The customer was quite shaken, and impressed, at the level of intricacy in which the email system was hacked. The fraudulent email looked exactly like it had come from one of their owners. The hackers even went so far as to buy a domain and create a fake email address that was only one letter off from the owner’s actual email address.
“They were very intelligent hackers,” Eddie said. “The customer was very grateful that we caught it.”
Naturally, Eddie closed their account and opened a new one for security. However, he and Cally decided it would be best to implement Choice Financial’s Advanced Online Banking system, to make transactions easier and more secure.
“With dual control, it allows one person to set it up and another to approve. This way, every transaction gets looked at twice,” Cally said.
It would have worked to jump on the phone and walk the customer through the new system — but Eddie and Cally knew it would be much easier for the customer, and less overwhelming, to be there in person. So they jumped in the car and drove the 100 miles there and back to Sisseton, SD. While there, they made sure the system was properly in place and that everyone understood how to use it. Plus, they got to catch up with the customer.
“It’s easier to explain things to people in person, especially new processes,” Cally said. “It’s easier to answer questions than an email or phone call. And it’s nice to get to know your customer while you’re there.”
This level of care is not found everywhere. Danne Doering, a Universal Banker at Choice, noted that Eddie and Cally didn’t have to go out there. It was a lot of driving, and a lot of time. But they did it anyway.
“It shows a lot of initiative and passion on their part,” Danne said.
It meant a lot to the customer, too. They thanked Eddie and Cally multiple times for detecting the fraud, and then going above and beyond to help set them up for safer transactions. Commit to your customers with undivided attention is a core value that inspires Eddie.
“It’s part of the personal service we do at Choice,” he said. “When we set aside time for that customer, we’re showing them they’re not just a number. Their relationship means something to us.”
P.S. Is your system secure? Check out these tips from Choice Financial’s Security Steve to learn more about preventing fraud.