What Is Inheritance Theft (and How Can You Protect Your Money)

If you have money, property, or other assets to pass down when you die—or if you’re a beneficiary expecting an inheritance from a relative—you want to make sure all gets distributed according to plan.

But it’s not unheard of for family conflict to complicate or completely derail the allocation of an inheritance—and this can even devolve into a type of theft known as “inheritance theft,” or “inheritance hijacking,” which could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. So what exactly does it involve, and how can you protect your money?

What is inheritance hijacking?

Inheritance theft may occur in a variety of ways:

  • Stealing, destroying, or forging trust or will documents.
  • Coercing or using undue influence (part of which involves “excessive persuasion”) to convince someone to change their will or trust.
  • Stealing, hiding, or diverting assets from an estate or for personal gain.
  • Abusing power of attorney authority.
  • Charging excessive fees for services related to executor or trustee duties.
  • Marrying under false pretenses for the purpose of benefiting from an inheritance.

While inheritance theft can be perpetrated by professionals aiding in estate planning or execution, it’s more likely to occur within a family or among close caretakers. Emotional manipulation is one common tactic, and usually involves a family member who is after someone’s assets trying to get closer to that person, often by doing them favors. Similarly, family members may bad mouth each other to convince the person to reallocate their inheritance.

Note that stealing assets from an older adult or forging documents related to finances is considered a form of elder abuse.

How to protect your assets from hijacking

First and foremost, start your estate planning process early, and with the help of a lawyer who specializes in this area. An experienced attorney can help you draft a sound estate planning agreement. Keep multiple sets of extensive records of anything related to your estate, and discuss your wishes clearly with those involved.

You may also consider distributing assets early so they are dispersed the way you want, says Jason Porter, a UK-based senior investment manager with Scottish Heritage SG. This could prevent coercion or diversion, though you’ll want to work with a tax prep expert to understand the impact of large gifts.

Again, because emotional manipulation among relatives is a more likely scenario than any sort of professional theft or fraud, employing legal and financial professionals who specialize in estate planning can be your best protection. You may also consider having multiple executors who are accountable for distributing your assets according to your estate plan.

How to protect your inheritance

Let’s say you’re an heir, and we’ll assume you have the best intentions to honor a relative’s wishes and be above board legally. You can watch for family members acting weird or cozying up to a relative they’ve had a lot of conflict with. Financial abuse and exploitation—mismanagement or misuse of money—can be difficult to spot, but warning signs may also include sudden changes in banking, large or unexplained withdrawals or asset transfers, and unpaid bills.

The laws governing inheritance theft and the penalties for violations vary by state, but if you suspect this is occurring, an estate planning attorney or forensic accountant can help you pursue these concerns. You can also report elder abuse to your state agency.

By: Emily Long

Source: How to Stop Someone From Stealing Your Inheritance

Critics:

The reason we create estate plans and wills is that we want to feel assured that our assets will pass on to the intended recipients. Unfortunately, our best-laid plans can go awry when Inheritance Hijacking occurs. One of the most frustrating things about inheritance theft is that it is often committed by relatives. This not only means that their actions can ruin family relations, but also that they are likely to get away with it if no proper measures are in place.

You can increase the odds that your assets reach the intended parties after you die if you take certain steps now. For example, it can be useful to discuss your estate plan with all your intended heirs present at the same time. This way, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page, making it much more difficult for the various forms of will hijacking to occur.

Ensuring that you have an attorney involved who will also be able to assist the family can help keep conversations consistent, and diminish the ability for anyone to fabricate what was said or what was intended. 

You may also want to appoint two executors to your estate. This can reduce the chances that anyone will abuse their position. It can be especially helpful to nominate a non-family professional as one of the two executors.

It is also worth considering giving assets to your heirs before you die. Not only will this keep family members from fighting over them after you are gone, but you will also get to witness your heirs enjoying your gifts while you are still around.

It can be quite difficult to prove your case if you don’t know when the theft happened or aren’t sure who is to blame. You will need to do some detective work to get the evidence you require to prove your claim in court.

If you suspect something has been stolen but aren’t sure what it is, you’ll need to conduct your own inventory of the decedent’s estate. You may notice large withdrawals from bank accounts or changes in beneficiaries with life insurance policies, retirement accounts, or of other assets. If someone else is named as the beneficiary instead of the family member or if a title was transferred to another person, you will likely need to prove that the decedent was coerced into making those changes or manipulated by someone stealing your rightful inheritance.

If the theft was of money from a business or other fraudulent activity, you may need a forensic accountant to go through the records. Of course, you won’t need to take care of all this yourself. Your probate attorney will hire someone with experience in this area.

For physical items, you may have difficulty proving the person has possession of it. If the theft is of real property or large items, such as their classic cars, the title or deed would have to be changed. You would need to prove that the decedent was manipulated or threatened into giving them the property.

For smaller missing items, you may have difficulty proving they exist. If they have significant value, these items may have been insured, such as with expensive jewelry or artwork. Many times, the thief will sell these assets quickly to get the money and remove the item from their possession.

An estate plan that is prepared in collaboration with an experienced Santa Cruz will and trust attorney is much less susceptible to inheritance hijacking than one that you prepare yourself. A seasoned lawyer can help you arrange your estate plan in a way that protects your interests and those of your heirs, leaving far less room for confusion and making it much less likely that your will could be successfully contested.

If you would like professional assistance with this process, we invite you to contact our Santa Cruz office or one of our offices located throughout the state of California by calling (800) 244-8814.

Related contents:

what-is-inheritance-hijacking

Inheritance Hijacking Defined

Inheritance Hijackers: Who Wants to Steal Your Inheritance and How to Protect It

Blood & Money: Why Families Fight Over Inheritance and What To Do About It

Inheritance Theft: Coping With Family Betrayal

Protecting Yourself From Inheritance Theft

How to Stop Inheritance Theft and Protect Your Rights

How to Recover Stolen Inheritance – Probate Advance

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Consumers coming to your site expect to get information about your products and services and feel good about contacting you. If they come to a site that looks messy or is hard to use, this hurts their ability to put trust into your company. Remember the old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

2. Modern Design Establishes Confidence

If your website reminds visitors of the good old days of Geocities, MySpace, and Angelfire, this does not inspire confidence in your company. Even if you had your site done within the last few years, you should consider redesigning. Website trends change, and what may have looked up-to-date three to four years ago could now look dated. The older the design of your site is, the more you risk customers thinking your business might be closed, and the website abandoned. Good design prevents this.

3. Good Design Brings Mobile Users

More people are using their phones for internet searches than ever. If your site is not mobile-friendly, it will be penalized in searches on Google. Even if people find your site, users who can’t navigate the site easily on a phone will get frustrated and leave. Many business owners are under the impression if you can “see” the site on a phone, it’s mobile-friendly. Unless a site is carefully designed and optimized for mobile navigation and screen size, you harm your chances of being found and viewed.

4. Inclusion Requires Accessibility

If you want everyone to be able to learn about your company, then you need to make sure your site is accessible to people with disabilities. A good designer knows how to use contrast, proper navigation, and other techniques to make sure your site can be enjoyed by everyone. This benefits your business by increasing your potential customer base and building lots of good will.

5. The Right Design Improves Customer Retention

Customers who have a hard time finding information will not likely stick around to learn more. User experience (UX) is an important facet of professional web design. Not only does having a great UX mean happy, repeat customers, but it further bolsters the professionalism of your business. UX is particularly important for ecommerce sites. If users have a hard time finding products or become exasperated with your shopping cart, you risk them finding elsewhere to make their purchase.

6. It Can Make Customers “Stick”

A striking website design with effective navigation, colors, and easy-to-use portals is a place that people want to visit again and stick around. You want to use the concept in marketing of “sticky,” which means users will stay on your site and either buy something, order a service, or contact you for more information.

7. Design Drives Sales Conversions

Following the concept of “stickiness,” if users like your site, they will be converted into customers. Almost 40 percent of people will leave a site that they find visually unappealing, and you can’t sell to people who aren’t there. Research has found people’s attention can only be held for about 8 seconds, so you need to use those 8 seconds to your best advantage.

8. It Allows You to Showcase Your Brand

Branding is important in any business because it builds recognition and loyalty for your company. If your site doesn’t effectively promote your brand, such as using an incompatible color scheme or unprofessional fonts, it will make it harder for people to associate your site with your company. You need to consider the emotions and impressions your brand strategy conveys, such as excitement or authority. If you position your company as the experts in a niche and your site use neon colors and Comic Sans, you are working against your brand.

9. Design Improves Your SEO

People unfamiliar with SEO may think it simply involves using keywords for search engines. However, an experienced web designer knows how you build your site can vastly improve your SEO. Great SEO includes:

  • Mobile-friendly design
  • An excellent user experience
  • Proper information architecture for navigation
  • Semantic HTML
  • Fast page loading speed (remember those 8 seconds!)

10. It Helps You Stand out From Your Competition

Finally, think of your competition and research their websites. How does yours compare? If you are selling comparable products and services and their website is easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and modern while yours is not, it’s not hard to see who will get more business. Working with a designer to see other competing sites and developing a strategic and stunning design will put you ahead in the race for eyeballs on the screen and sales conversions.

Your Website Reflects Your Company

There are many reasons why an excellent web design can help your company and a poor one can lead to lost sales and followers. Think about your brand, how you want people to see you, and what you want users to experience and work with a designer who can create a website that fulfills your business goals.

By

Source: 10 Reasons Why Website Design Is Important for Your Business | LoveToKnow

More contents:

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Why Some Housing Markets Seem To Be Cooling Down While Others Heat Up

Burned by a hot housing market, some frustrated home buyers may have hoped that sky-high listing prices are finally coming down to earth. Well, they are – sort of. It just depends on where you live.

To better understand the housing affordability situation, Fortune magazine reached out to Moody’s Analytics to get access to its latest proprietary housing analysis. Researchers at the financial intelligence firm calculated how home prices are likely to shift in 414 regional housing markets between the fourth quarter of 2022 and the fourth quarter of 2024.

Among the nation’s 414 largest housing markets, the Moody’s Analytics forecast model predicts that 210 markets are on the verge of seeing home prices decline over the coming two years and 204 markets are poised to see home prices rise over the coming two years.

The prospect of a big drop in house prices is becoming more and more likely as home sellers give in to the mounting pressure on affordability posed by June’s rapid mortgage rate hike.

Nationwide, home prices increased 18.3% year over year in June 2022, compared with June 2021, marking the 125th consecutive month of year-over-year increases, according to CoreLogic, a data analytics provider. Though annual appreciation was still strong, it slowed from the previous month for the second consecutive month, reflecting reduced buyer demand in part due to higher mortgage rates and worries about a slowing economy.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, points out that the housing markets that have experienced price gains may find themselves at a pivotal moment.

“What I can say is that those markets that boomed were driven by strong local job creations and from new residents moving into those regions, including as retirees,” he said. “So, for places like Phoenix, Tampa and Boise, you may or may not see any meaningful price decline. They could also be primed for even more price gains.”

Yun added, “I cannot say, given such an extraordinary price growth in a short duration. But even if there were to be a price decline in these markets, it would not do any local economic damage given the strong housing wealth conditions of many local homeowners who had purchased many years ago. Even some renters may want to jump back into buying if there was a price decline.”

He said he would be more concerned about housing markets being able to weather the storm where job growth is not occurring and where they are losing remote workers to other locations.

“For white-collar workers earning high salaries, remote work is a huge financial boon,” said Redfin senior economist Sheharyar Bokhari. “It enables them to move from a tech center like San Francisco to a more affordable part of the country like Boise or Salt Lake City, get more home for their money and save some for a rainy day. It can have the opposite effect on locals in those destinations–especially renters–who are watching from the sidelines as home prices skyrocket while their income stays mostly the same.”

“Partly because of soaring home prices, Phoenix and Miami have some of the highest inflation rates in the country,” added Bokhari. “That will eventually diminish the financial advantage of moving to these places for out-of-towners. High inflation also cuts into budgets for locals, who are spending more on things like food and fuel and saving less for an eventual down payment.”

Home prices shot up over twice as fast as home buyer incomes in Boise, Idaho, rising 53% to $485,000 from December 2019 to December 2021, according to a Redfin analysis of mortgage data. Prices rose 48% in Austin, Texas and Cape Coral, Florida.

While local incomes rose and home prices skyrocketed in 2021, housing markets in many of those pandemic boomtowns are faltering as high mortgage rates and unsustainable price growth tame demand.

Redfin reports that Boise, Austin, Cape Coral, Phoenix, North Port, Florida and Tacoma, Washington are among the 20 housing markets that cooled the fastest in the first half of 2022. And Boise, Cape Coral, North Port, West Palm Beach, Miami, Stockton, California and Salt Lake City are among the 25 housing markets most susceptible to home-price declines if the U.S. enters a recession. But although they are susceptible to a recession-driven downturn, these places are unlikely to see housing market crashes because home buyers there have relatively high incomes.

“People are still moving in from California and they still have enough money to buy nice homes in desirable neighborhoods, sometimes with all cash,” said Austin Redfin agent Gabriel Recio. “But the days of homes selling for 25% over asking price with multiple offers are over. Buyers are no longer as eager now that mortgage rates are up and there’s buzz in the air about the slowing housing market. Local buyers–and even buyers coming from out of town–now have a chance to take their time and buy a home at asking price or even under asking price.”

Selma Hepp, interim lead of the Office of the Chief Economist at CoreLogic, sees the markets that Moody’s model predicts will experience the biggest drop in house prices as the same markets that CoreLogic’s market condition indicators model shows as exceedingly overvalued. “These markets have seen considerable home price appreciation over what local income suggests would be affordable,” said Hepp. “Thus, pulling of home buyer demand, due to higher rates and perception of overvaluation, as more new construction becomes available may lead to price discounts and resultant price declines.

Also, these markets have seen considerable in-migration from other states, mostly in the Northeast, and Baby Boomers retiring. Those incoming buyers may now look at other locations where they perceive prices as more affordable, which would dampen demand and may lead to some price discounting on the part of builders.”

Mortgage rates may be historically low, but so is home buyer morale these days, says George Ratiu, Realtor.com’s manager of economic research. He said the big issue at the moment is that real estate markets are moving through a reset transition, away from the chaotic pace of 2020-2021, following a sharp increase in mortgage rates in the first half of 2022, which compounded home prices breaking new records.

“The rising costs of borrowing have created an affordability ceiling for many buyers, who are finding that their incomes are no longer sufficient to cover much higher potential mortgage payments,” said Ratiu. “As a result, with demand cooling considerably, the number of homes for sale are sitting longer on the market and motivated homeowners are resorting to price cuts to close deals.”

In June, Realtor.com’s inventory data showed that about 15% of listed homes showed price reductions, double the share from last year. These trends are particularly visible in metropolitan areas that have seen an influx of residents and capital over the past couple of years, especially in the Sun Belt. Markets like Austin, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; Phoenix; the Lakeland-Winter Haven metro area in Florida; and Stockton, California are posting some of the highest gains in the number of homes for sale with price cuts.

Ratiu said, “Many of these markets experienced strong price appreciation during the pandemic, but with inflation eating away at most people’s incomes, the ability to keep paying more has disappeared. As wages fall behind prices, and with rates significantly higher than a year ago, we can expect these markets to continue to see adjustments in sales and prices through the remainder of 2022 and into next year.”

Susan Wachter, the Albert Sussman professor of real estate and professor of finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, said Moody’s prediction of price declines points to overpriced housing markets based on income.

“That is how these markets differ,” she explained. “Some of the markets are supply constrained. Some like those in parts of Florida are less so. It is reasonable to expect that markets with elevated prices based on historical ratios will be at risk in a growth slowdown. What is not addressed here, is what happens after income growth slows or declines, that is, in recovery. What is missing in this calculus is the identification of amenity-rich supply constrained markets where price rises will likely pick up in the aftermath of a recession. With long-term income increases, these markets are destined to be hot again.”

I am an award-winning journalist and former real estate editor at the Chicago Tribune, where I was cited for excellence for my work in launching and editing real estate

Source: Why Some Housing Markets Seem To Be Cooling Down While Others Heat Up

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Fintech’s Fraud Problem: Why Some Merchants Are Shunning Digital Bank Cards

 

Getty Images, Illustration by Forbes


When Robyn Mathis, a 41-year-old food production plant worker from Brunswick, Georgia, stepped off a flight to Philadelphia last June, she expected an easy passage to her destination. She was set to pick up her rental car and charge it to her Chime card, as she had done several times before. For the last few years, the digital bank’s debit and credit cards had been her payment methods of choice. But at the Budget car rental desk at Philadelphia’s International Airport, Mathis got an unpleasant surprise.

Budget would not accept her Chime credit or debit card. Frustrated, Mathis, who was traveling with her two college-aged children, called other airport rental outlets—Enterprise, Avis and Dollar. All said they wouldn’t take her card. After two hours, Mathis finally gave up and called an Uber. Fintech had failed her. Upon returning home, she moved most of her money from Chime to her account at Bank OZK, a regional institution with more than 200 branches and roots stretching back to 1903.

Digital-first “neobanks” like Chime are one of the hottest sectors in the fintech revolution. They offer fast approval and low- or no-fee accounts, all without any brick-and-mortar branches—a powerful selling point during a pandemic. Chime grew from 7 million U.S. customers at the start of 2020 to more than 13 million by the end of this year, according to estimates by eMarketer.

Chime’s valuation hit a stunning $25 billion in August, and an initial public offering that could value the enterprise at $45 billion is in the works. Square’s Cash App, which began as a peer-to-peer money transfer service and has evolved into a digital bank, added 12 million users in 2020. Square’s stock has more than tripled since the pandemic began, and it now boasts a market capitalization of about $90 billion.

But the same “frictionless” signup and ease-of-use features that make digital banks appealing to customers have given crooks an opening to wreak havoc through various schemes. That includes “first-party fraud,” where customers (with accounts in their own names) do everything from racking up charges and yanking the money to pay those charges out of their accounts before a transaction settles to illegally collecting unemployment insurance in states where they don’t live or work.

Another tactic: exploiting America’s tortoise-like bank-to-bank transfer network by moving money from one account to another and then withdrawing the same funds from both accounts while the transfer is in process. Fintech providers also appear to be more susceptible to identity theft and “account takeovers,” where swindlers get access to another person’s account and start spending.

Take the case of Shayla King, a single mother of four from Tampa, Florida, who became a Chime fraud victim in July 2021. She first noticed the problem when she woke up on a Friday to see dozens of automated texts on her iPhone asking if she had made 62 transactions totaling $744 from different businesses in India. She texted back “no” and then got an automated text confirmation that the charges would not go through. King says she also immediately rang Chime’s customer support line to report the charges were fraudulent. But come Monday, her Chime account was nearly emptied.

“Companies used to build financial products starting with the risk … Everything today is built starting with marketing, and risk oftentimes comes way further down the funnel.”

King disputed the charges, but Chime denied her claim. She tried twice more, eventually copying an investigative consumer reporter at a local ABC affiliate on her email to Chime. Four days later, after the reporter contacted Chime, it returned the money, more than a month after King first reported the incident. (Chime admits it made an “initial error” in its dealing with King, but says it corrected the problem after King appealed, and not because of the TV reporter’s inquiry.)

“I will never in my life bank with an online bank again,” adds King, who says she spoke on the phone with more than a dozen different customer service reps during the ordeal. “That’s my car payment, my electricity bill … I’m a paycheck-to-paycheck person, and I’m still trying to climb out of that hole.”

According to data from Aite-Novarica Group, fintech companies like neobanks and robo advisors have an average fraud rate of roughly 0.30%. That’s as much as double credit cards’ historical rates of 0.15% to 0.20% and three times higher than debit cards’ less than  0.10% fraud rate. While these percentage differences might seem small, they’re significant given that banking profitability is measured in basis points or hundredths of a percent.

And these seemingly tiny percentages add up. In 2020, identity fraud alone caused $56 billion in losses across all U.S. financial services firms, according to research firm Javelin. Facing growing incidents of fraud, some merchants have begun limiting or even blocking the debit and credit cards being offered by Chime, Cash App and other neobanks.

“Companies used to build financial products starting with the risk,” says a fraud expert and executive at a San Francisco fintech company. “Everything today is built starting with marketing, and risk oftentimes comes way further down the funnel.”

Rental car agencies and hotels have so far taken the most consequential actions in response to fintech’s fraud problem. In March, Avis, which owns the Budget and Payless car rental brands too, blackballed Chime. Said one tweet to a customer, “Only Chime cards we no longer accept due to many fraud reports. Have a great day!” Avis also hung up signs at branch locations announcing the ban and over the summer its FAQ singled out “prepaid debit/gift cards and Chime debit/credit cards” as not acceptable for vehicle pick-ups. 

Avis’ restrictions prompted a backlash from Chime and its card network, Visa, in late summer. Visa has a strict “honor all cards” policy for merchants who generally must accept any Visa card from any issuer. After Forbes reached out to Avis for comment, its policy page was updated to remove mention of its Chime restriction. An Avis spokesperson declined to explain the reason for its Chime ban, simply saying that Chime cards are accepted as payment upon returning a rental car, which would still require customers to have a different card for vehicle pick-up.

Enterprise and Hertz, the two largest rental car agencies in America, have also instituted fintech card bans. Forbes spoke with 10 Hertz storefronts across ten states, and most said cards tied to Chime were not welcome, with Cash App, Paypal or Venmo also rejected by some. An Enterprise customer service rep said locations at airports don’t accept Chime cards either. Some of the non-airport branches called by Forbes said they do accept Chime, though they cited various special restrictions such as requiring a utility bill. Nearly half of the dozens of Marriott Courtyard, Holiday Inn, Extended Stay America and La Quinta franchise locations Forbes spoke with said they don’t accept Chime or Cash App cards, either.

Spokespeople for Hertz and Extended Stay America said company-managed locations had banned Chime or Cash App cards, while spokespeople for Marriott and Enterprise claimed the cards are accepted. (Enterprise failed to clarify its airport policy.) The owners of the La Quinta and Holiday Inn brands did not respond to multiple requests for comment by Forbes.

Brian Mullins, Chime’s senior vice president of risk, downplays the problem. “In July, we had 50,000 transactions across all Marriott and Courtyard Marriotts … There may just be some individual locations where [a rejection of Chime cards] had occurred.” Chime had already done $150 million in Enterprise car rental transactions in 2021, he said in late August. “If it’s an issue, it’s not affecting our customers,” he insisted.

According to experts, much of the fraud seen by rental car agencies and hotels is so-called first-party fraud, where card holders run schemes under their real identities. One way they can do this involves taking advantage of a quirk in the U.S. payments system, says Mary Ann Miller, a vice president at identity and fraud company Prove. When someone picks up a rental car or checks into a hotel, the merchant processes a pre-authorization charge on their debit or credit card that puts a  “hold” on a set amount of money.

That hold expires after a short period of time—say, three days, depending on the terms set by the bank that issued the card. Once it expires, a bad actor, who might have rented the car for a week for example, can spend the money, since it’s no longer locked up. When the rental car agency finally goes to charge the customer after the car is returned, the bank account tied to the debit card is empty or the limit on the credit card is exhausted, and the merchant or bank can’t collect.

Another fraud tactic is for a customer to dispute large numbers of legitimate charges. Chime says its systems try to weed out serial disputers, but its frictionless interface makes refusing Chime charges as easy as a few taps on its mobile app. “Account takeovers” are another scam that fintechs like Chime are particularly susceptible to, because fraud rings often target new technology, thinking it’s more likely to have holes. In one rip-off, scammers buy information on the dark web to figure out Chime customers’ usernames and passwords, then gain access to their accounts and go on a buying spree.

Can’t traditional banks’ accounts be taken over too? Yes, but the digital banks may be both more vulnerable and more likely to be targeted. “Digital-focused banks have a target on their backs because fraudsters know that the banks want to make the user signup flow and banking experience as seamless as possible,’’ says Vice President of Trust and Safety Kevin Lee at fraud prevention firm Sift.

Because of Visa’s and Mastercard’s dispute protection policies, merchants hit with various forms of fraud can often escape being held liable for the unauthorized charges themselves. But trying to clean up a rash of illicit activity is costly, involving many hours of research and internal meetings across different corporate teams.

Chime vigorously denies that its app has become a haven for fraud. Still, part of its problems may stem from the company’s aggressive customer acquisition campaigns, often using social media to attract unbanked or underbanked prospects who have little or no credit histories. In September, the company offered cash prizes of up to $1,000 to TikTok users who made videos including the hashtag “ChimeHasYourBack.” Two months later, TikToks sporting the hashtag had collectively garnered 7.3 billion views.

Chime declined Forbes’ request to provide its overall fraud rates, saying only that they’re significantly below the maximum thresholds set by Visa and Nacha, the nonprofit association that runs ACH, the U.S. bank-to-bank payments network. The fintech’s CEO Chris Britt instead blames the merchants for any problems that have developed.

“I think there’s a limited number of merchants that are not applying the industry standard of due diligence before giving consumers access to these rental cars,” he says. He adds that Chime doesn’t run credit checks on its users—it’s the rental car agencies’ job to determine consumers’ creditworthiness.

Chime isn’t the only fintech wrestling with fraud and delinquency problems, and these issues date back to the earliest fintech companies in America. From July through October of 2000, two years after PayPal got off the ground, the company lost $6 million to fraud at a time when its revenue was less than $5 million. PayPal was losing $1,900 an hour to fraud. More recently, phony jobless claims have been a problem for Green Dot and Square’s Cash App, as well as Chime.

Ten residents of Palm Beach County, Florida were arrested in September for attempting to raid other states’ unemployment benefit coffers. According to court records, the defendants typically opened accounts at Chime, Cash App or Green Dot under their own names, then applied for unemployment checks from states they had neither lived nor worked in.

Explaining how to commit the fraud to an unnamed associate, one 21-year-old defendant suggested using the three fintechs for direct deposit of the swindled funds: “States like Arizona and Pennsylvania hittin fasho…FREE GAME,” he wrote in an Instagram message reprinted in court records. “Chime Greendot cash app.”

“There’s no risk of needing to show identification in person, no surveillance video to show who’s utilizing the bank account.”-Kyle Kinney, detective at a local Florida police department

Kyle Kinney, a detective at the local Florida police department who investigated the cases, says the offenders likely preferred digital banks for their convenience, compared to brick-and-mortar alternatives. “There’s no risk of needing to show identification in person, no surveillance video to show who’s utilizing the bank account,” he explains. “Transferring and receiving funds to and from co-conspirators is pretty easy.”

The flood of extra unemployment money tied to the pandemic, as well as the expanded categories of people eligible for payments, has likely exacerbated the problem.  The U.S. Labor Department’s Inspector General recently estimated that, based on an historical mispayment rate of 10%, between March 2020 and September 2021, $87 billion in enhanced benefits could have been improperly paid, with “a significant portion attributable to fraud.”

But, the IG added, the actual number—based on a preliminary audit—was likely higher. Frank McKenna, cofounder of fraud prevention firm Point Predictive, suspects that Chime was “one of the preferred ways that a lot of these fraudsters took money from the government, because they could easily go online, set up a Chime account very quickly, have the funds transferred into the account, and then quickly have those funds diverted elsewhere …

I think what you’re seeing now is the result of a lot of growth, and a lot of the fraud that might have gotten into the portfolio while all the stimulus came in.” He also says that there’s an active market on messaging app Telegram for people to buy Chime accounts.

It’s not just the merchants who have become wary of doing business with big fintechs like Chime and Cash App. HMBradley, a three-year-old, Santa Monica-based online bank with $375 million in assets, saw a startling rise in fraud coming from the transfers it gets from Chime and Cash App accounts. The schemers would typically open an HMBradley account, then connect it to an existing Chime account.

They’d request to transfer funds from Chime, and when the money reached HMBradley, they’d quickly ferry it into a third bank account. Often, the funds HMBradley was pulling in from Chime didn’t exist—and that’s possible because of the way the U.S. bank-to-bank transfer network, or the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system, works.

The ACH network, first built in the 1970s, lacks real-time verification and it can take days for transactions to settle through ACH. So when a neobank allows a customer to pull money from an outside account via ACH, it takes on the risk of finding out several days later that the customer only had $1 in his account even though he requested to transfer $1,000. ACH still underlies most money transfers, to the tune of $62 trillion in 2020, and is run by Nacha, a nonprofit association funded by financial institutions.

While HMBradley typically only sees about $500 worth of fraud per month, in May it lost tens of thousands of dollars, split between Cash App and Chime users, according to CEO Zach Bruhnke. To stop the bleeding, Bruhnke put longer holds on transfers so that a customer trying to pull in funds from a Chime or Cash App account would have to wait a few more days to see the funds arrive in HMBradley.

Another new online bank called One has also placed longer holds on Chime transactions. “It’s a reflection of how frequently the accounts tend to be fraudulent and how much loss tends to be taken on those transactions,” says One CEO Brian Hamilton. Chime CEO Chris Britt again prefers to shift the blame. He says that small companies like HMBradley and One “probably don’t have the same level of sophistication in terms of how to process things like ACH transactions and transfers from online accounts.”

Betterment, a robo-investing app with $29 billion in assets, blocked all new connections to Chime, Cash App, Square, Robinhood, Green Dot and Metabank in May due to “a trend of attempted fraudulent activity,” according to an email Betterment sent to some customers that was reviewed by Forbes. Britt says there are a “number of companies” that Chime “runs much more volume through … that are managing just fine.”

According to Bruhnke, Chime’s team was helpful in troubleshooting HMBradley’s fraud spike. Bruhnke tried to work with Cash App to get help, too, but their support was “almost non-existent,” he says. Today, HMBradley no longer puts longer holds on Chime transactions, but for most Cash App customers, he extends HMBradley’s typical two-day hold period for transfers to five business days and caps daily transactions to between $100 and $500.

Bruhnke says of Square’s rapid customer growth, “They’re a public company, and they’re sort of padding their user numbers by perpetuating this.” Square declined to make an executive available for an interview, but told Forbes via email that fraud prevention is a top priority and that Cash App maintains teams dedicated to resolving merchant acceptance issues.

Stock trading app Robinhood recently highlighted its own ACH fraud challenges. “Customers initiate deposits into their accounts, make trades on our platform using a short-term extension of credit from us, and then repatriate or reverse the deposits, resulting in a loss to us of the credited amount,” it wrote in its second quarter regulatory filing. As a result, its provision for credit losses for the first half of the year surged 54% to $37 million.

In February, a payments processing company that works with hundreds of merchants that sell age-restricted products like alcohol saw 45% of its fraudulent ACH transactions come from Chime, according to an executive at the payments company.

It noticed a pattern where some people had used multiple Chime accounts under slightly different names but with the same IDs. They’d buy alcohol from one merchant, but before the transaction settled, they’d quickly pull the rug out by moving that money into another Chime account, a maneuver made possible by the settlement lags of the ACH system.

The liquor stores saw tens of thousands of dollars of losses, and when the payments company determined that Chime wasn’t going to do anything to fix the problem, it permanently blocked Chime transactions altogether. Says the payments company executive, “If they’re not actively doing anything about it, then we have to actively do something about it.”

I’m a reporter on Forbes’ wealth team covering the world’s richest people and tracking their fortunes. I was previously an assistant editor for Forbes’ Money & Markets section, and I

I lead our fintech coverage at Forbes and also cover crypto. I edit our annual Fintech 50 list and 30 Under 30 list for fintech, and I’ve written frequently about leadership and corporate

Source: Fintech’s Fraud Problem: Why Some Merchants Are Shunning Digital Bank Cards

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Trendio  https://jvz3.com/c/202927/381003/  
TubePal   https://jvz6.com/c/202927/379863/  
Tubeserp   https://jvz3.com/c/202927/370472  
TubeTargeter  https://jvz6.com/c/202927/377211
TuneMingo    https://jvz3.com/c/202927/386556/
TV Boss Fire  https://jvz6.com/c/202927/379480/  
Ultrafunnels A.I   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/381129/   
VIADZ Ad Template  https://jvz4.com/c/202927/379307/  
Vidcentric   https://jvz4.com/c/202927/376095 
Viddeyo    https://jvz6.com/c/202927/382326/  
Videevolve   https://jvz4.com/c/202927/381011/  
Video Campaignor      https://jvz4.com/c/202927/387058/
Video Games   https://jvz3.com/c/202927/184902/  
VideoEnginePro     https://jvz2.com/c/202927/372916 
VideoGameSuite    https://jvz3.com/c/202927/366537/   
VideoRobot Enterprise   https://jvz8.com/c/202927/291061  
VidKreate   https://jvz6.com/c/202927/386029/  
VidMingo   https://jvz6.com/c/202927/378359/    
VidRaffle   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/386840/
VidSnatcher    https://jvz3.com/c/202927/342585
VidVoicer    https://jvz1.com/c/202927/379983/   
Vidzura   https://jvz4.com/c/202927/385754/    
Viral dash   https://jvz6.com/c/202927/375959 
Viral Quotes      https://jvz2.com/c/202927/386984/
VirtualReel   https://jvz8.com/c/202927/376849 
Vocalic  https://jvz2.com/c/202927/383848/   
VoiceBuddy    https://jvz1.com/c/202927/342854  
WebCop  https://jvz4.com/c/202927/378683/  
Webinarkit   https://jvz3.com/c/202927/383937/  
Webprimo   https://jvz1.com/c/202927/379455/   
WordPress Mastery   https://jvz1.com/c/202927/386249/  
WowBackgraounds   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/381556/ 
WP GDPR    https://jvz8.com/c/202927/299907
WP Simulator    https://jvz3.com/c/202927/46987/   
Writer Arc   https://jvz1.com/c/202927/386602/
writing job   https://jvz8.com/c/202927/213027  
XBrain Forex   https://jvz3.com/c/202927/372305/  
XFUNNELS   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/310335  
Xinemax  https://jvz1.com/c/202927/381749/ 
YoDrive   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/384700/  
YoSeller   https://jvz4.com/c/202927/387544/
Your 3DPal   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/381685/   
YTSuite   https://jvzoo.com/c/202927/381179   
Zappable   https://jvz3.com/c/202927/367328/

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