Fraud Alert: Scammers Use DOT Letterhead to Obtain Bank Account Numbers

Contractors and potential contractors with the U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) should be aware of another round of fraudulent letters purporting to be issued by DOT.[i]  The letter is typically signed by someone claiming to be a “Senior Procurement Officer” and appears on official letterhead.  The scam requests financial information be faxed to them and includes a form entitled, “Authorization to Release Financial Information.”

Do not be fooled by this fraudulent request.  The DOT does not require any financial information to be submitted in order to be eligible for procurement.  DOT procurement representatives will only request financial information in reference to specific contracts awarded.

A sample of the letter and release form can be found here.  It states, in part:

Our records show that you are currently registered as a prospective contractor for procurements issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation.  However after reviewing your record we have noticed that you have not submitted your financial information release form.

Your financial institution’s privacy policy may not allow it to release your financial information even to government institutions without your consent; therefore we must have such form on file before we can move on with any procurement decisions.

In March 2013, the procurement plan for the third quarter of 2013 will be finalized.  To be eligible for procurement with the U.S. Department of Transportation, you must submit the abovementioned form to us by fax at 202-318-2376.

Please make sure your fax is preceded by a cover page so we may correctly identify your company.

The release form asks for the company’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) and bank name, phone number, fax number, and operating account number.

Versions of this letter have been used for years and are commonly signed by “Julie Weynel” or some variation.  A recent round of letters was sent out on October 29, 2013, signed by “Ralph Schmidt.”  More information can be found in the DOT’s Fraud Alert.

These types of identity theft scams are often conducted from foreign countries, and it can be difficult to identify and prosecute the perpetrators.  If you suspect you have been the victim of one of these letters, immediately contact Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General Hotline at 1-800-424-9071 or ; Victims of the scam should also contact their local law enforcement agency and their regional U.S. Secret Service office.  The Secret Service provides helpful tips for victims of fraud here.

[i] Big thanks to Mike Purdy, whose blog article, Fraud Alert:  Scam Seeks Contractor bank Account Numbers, reminded us of this important issue.

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