Scams Involving the Federal Reserve Name

Tuesday, August 01, 2017 | 2:23pm

Video Scam Targeting Federal Reserve Bank Routing Numbers; Prosecution Possible
July 2017

Recently, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York became aware of a scheme promoted in online videos whereby individuals claim that U.S. citizens may make payments using fictitious accounts held at the Federal Reserve Banks.  These fictitious accounts have been most commonly styled as secret accounts and/or Social Security trust accounts, and the individuals publishing the videos claim that substantial amounts are held within them for each U.S. citizen.  To facilitate the scheme, the individuals publishing the videos have also offered bogus information on how other individuals may use online portals, such as bill-pay websites, to initiate payments from the fictitious accounts using Federal Reserve Bank routing numbers.

It is important for consumers to know that, when making online or e-check bill payments, they must not use Federal Reserve Bank routing numbers. Any video, text, e-mail, phone call, flyer, or website that describes how to pay bills using a Federal Reserve Bank routing number or using an account at the Federal Reserve Bank is a scam.

The Federal Reserve Banks provide banking services only to banks and governmental entities; individuals do not have accounts at the Federal Reserve. If a Federal Reserve Bank receives a request to make a payment on behalf of an individual, the Federal Reserve Bank will decline to make the payment.  Consumers who have attempted to use Federal Reserve Bank routing numbers to pay their bills will see those transactions rejected or returned, which may result in penalty fees being assessed by the company they were attempting to pay.

Law enforcement, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is aware of this scheme, and the Federal Reserve Banks, including the New York Fed, have been cooperating with law enforcement in their investigations. Individuals who participate in such schemes could face criminal charges. 

To report instances of fraud relating to these schemes, please e-mail RTN.fraud@ny.frb.org.

Financial Institutions