Fraud Fighters – Someone Out There Is Counting On You

Why do you do what you do? I think it comes from inside you. You have the desire to help people.

And that’s why you chose to be a fraud fighter. And now, people out there are counting on you.

Maybe you don’t know it. But they do.

If you’re a fraud fighter, this post is for you. ?

It Starts With The Story Of The “New York Kid”

I want to tell you the story of The New York Kid. His story begins in 1931 in the rough and tumble neighborhoods of the Bronx, New York.

His name was Frank McKenna. That’s not a coincidence. The New York Kid was my dad.

He grew up poor. He grew up during the Great Depression in one of the roughest parts of town. His life was not easy.

There was little food. In fact, his mother would often make him and his two sisters “salt sandwiches,” which were two pieces of bread with some salt sprinkled in the middle for flavor.

When he was 7, he desperately wanted to experience Christmas. Since they didn’t have money for gifts, he saved up his own money for weeks. The day before Christmas, he went to a Five and Dime, bought a flashlight, wrapped it up, and placed it under the Christmas tree for himself to open on Christmas morning.

On Christmas morning, he ran out to the tree and excitedly opened his gift – pretending it was from Santa.

He Dreamed Of A Better Life – He Pursued A Dream

Growing up, my dad would watch the glamorous movies of life in sunny California. It seemed so different than the mean streets of the Bronx; the palm trees, the beaches, and the beautiful big cars that everyone drove made it seem like a dream.

He was determined to move to this beautiful place. And he did just that.

He met a beautiful girl named Mary. He married her. He packed up their old car and hit the road to drive out to California to pursue the dream.

The Chula Vista Hustle – Grinding Day And Night To Realize The Dream

My dad’s long cross-country car ride landed him in Chula Vista, California – the dusty border town known for lemon groves and its proximity to Tijuana.

He chose a career in Insurance sales and went door to door each day from sun up to sun down, selling life insurance. It was miserable.

So he borrowed a few bucks and decided to set up his own insurance company. He set up a company and decided to sell insurance right next to the DMV.

On opening day, he called the local paper and made up an outlandish story of how he had saved a historically important 175-year-old Mission Bell and placed it on top of the agency. The outlandish PR stunt worked, and he was featured on the front page of The Chula Vista Star News.

This is the opening day for my dad.

Well, that business idea worked. My dad and mom built that business up to something big. Eventually, it would grow to locations across San Diego.

My dad’s dream of escaping New York and poverty and building something big was realized. He was a success.

And It Wasn’t Just The Business Dream But More

But my dad didn’t just like doing business big. He liked doing everything big, including having kids.

My mom loved kids too, so she didn’t mind.

So his family grew one by one. And they didn’t stop- all the way up to 12 kids – Kathy, Suzy, Billy, Frankie, Mary, Danny, Joanne, Patrick, Bridget, Erin, Sarah, and Elizabeth. A dozen kids.

My dad had everything he ever dreamed of – California, a business, a family.

A Thief Emerges, Determined To Steal It All

For years, his businesses flourished. The cash cow supported the huge family, private high schools, college tuition, and more.

Time passed. My dad grew old. At 80, he still headed to work every day drumming up business.

It was around this time a thief emerged. We’ll call him Daemon. He applied for and received a job from my dad, helping him in his insurance company.

My dad loved him. He said he was “like a son to him”. Daemon was always there for my dad, helping him with things like running to the bank to make deposits for him.

He was so helpful. He would even bring my dad coffee in the morning. He was a perfect employee. An amazing person.

But Daemon was not all he seemed. Behind the friendly facade lurked an evil and cunning manipulator determined to steal everything from an 80-year-old man – including his dreams.

A Fraud Emerges, And A Hero Too

In January 2014, a fraud analyst pulled up his fraud queue to work on the next account. The account popped up in the “Excessive Overdraft Queue,” and he got to work.

Something looked very bad here. The account holder, an elderly man named Frank McKenna, had wracked up hundreds of overdraft checks in 8 weeks. In total, it was about $169,000.

This was very unusual. Not only because he was an elderly client but because the customer had never had an issue in over 50 years on his account.

He called the branch. They told him it was ok. Frank loved the overdraft feature on his account. In fact, Frank would often have his favorite employee Daemon come in and sort it all out for him.

The branch said, “Don’t close the account; you’ll upset our loyal customer Frank. Besides, we are making $35 every time Frank overdrafts.”

And in fact, the bank was – racking up over $13,000 in overdraft fees. Cha-Ching!

The Fraud Analyst Had To Fight To Stop The Fraud

The fraud analyst was not convinced. Sure, the bank was making money. Sure, the customer had confirmed it was ok.

But something wasn’t right. So he decided to stop the activity and close the account pending further review.

He was not going to be popular for doing this. He did it anyway.

Two Terrible Truths Emerge At Once

In March of 2014, my dad learned a terrible truth – he had six months or less to live. He had developed brain cancer. He didn’t have much time left to live. That was the first terrible truth.

At that point, the family stepped in to help him with his business. We saw something terribly wrong with his accounts – they were all nearly empty despite his thriving business.

And that is when we discovered the fraud.

Daemon had been skimming cash and money from the business. It was making my dad’s checks bounce, and overdrafts were being swept from another of his accounts. That was the second terrible truth.

My dad was a victim of elderly abuse and fraud.

Daemon was stealing every penny he could. Daemon was unstoppable in his thirst to squeeze every penny he could from an old man.

And now Daemon had quickly left town, nowhere to be seen or heard from ever again.

And only one person had noticed and stopped him in his tracks – that fraud analyst for the bank.

I Have To Tell You This

If you are a fraud fighter, I must tell you this – someone is counting on you.

I learned certain lessons from seeing this happen to my dad, and I wanted to pass them along to you.

These are the lessons I learned.

#1 – You’re Going To Fight For Someone That Doesn’t Know They Need It

You are going to be unpopular. You’re going to go against the grain. You’ll have to trust your gut and do the right thing because someone, somewhere out there, is counting on you.

In fact, they might yell at you themselves. They might scream at you too. You’ll have to fight for them even though they don’t know they need you.

That’s going to be tough. Just know you’re doing the right thing.

#2 – You’ll Probably Never Hear The Thank You’s

In the end, you may never know if you did the right thing. You will likely never know all the stories of how you impacted lives.

You might never realize that you saved someone’s lifelong savings, that you saved their dreams or the dreams of the families they made.

You’ll likely never hear the Thank You’s for everything you did yesterday, or last month, or last year because you are on to the next account helping the next victim.

But I am here to thank you on behalf of my dad, who never got the chance.

Thank you to that fraud analyst! You never knew the difference you made.

#3 – Love Fighting Fraud And Keep The Fire Inside

And finally, love what you do. If you love fighting fraud and if you love helping people, you will be the best in the world at it.

So love what you do. Keep the fire inside. Don’t let them bring you down. You can’t let them bring you down.

Someone out there is counting on you.

Hey, thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for all you do. ?

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