Outlier Media has learned that one of its formerly used checking accounts was compromised in two attempts of fraud.

Checks bearing the correct account number and Outlier’s former mailing address were issued to at least two people in November. Two targets of the attempted fraud—one person in Arizona, the other in Missouri—contacted Outlier to verify the authenticity of the checks.

The check to the individual in Arizona included a note saying the payment was for a Dr. Pepper car wrap decoration service, according to Outlier’s findings. However, the $2,500 check recipient thought the check looked suspicious and contacted the news organization. No other details are known regarding the incident in Missouri. Multiple attempts to reach both individuals were unsuccessful.

Outlier Media Editor-in-Chief Sarah Alvarez said receiving the calls was troubling, but she was thankful the attempted fraud was brought to her attention. Outlier posted alerts on its social media pages about the scam and asked its audience to report any suspicious checks to the Federal Trade Commission, which provides resources for victims of fraud and helps law enforcement in detecting patterns of fraud.

“We don’t want people losing money, and we certainly don’t want anybody scamming in our name,” Alvarez said.

Upon speaking with Capital One’s fraud department in December, Outlier Operations Manager Kim Clayson learned the old checking account had not been closed. The customer service agent, who refused to allow Outlier to speak with a supervisor, closed the account, Clayson said. 

Capital One did not respond to several requests for comment by the time of publication.

Outlier Media Executive Director Candice Fortman said the non-profit news organization will continue to safeguard against fraud and scams.

“Fortunately, our main donation platform was not attached to this account,” Fortman said, “so our donors can rest assured that their funds were not at risk of being a part of this fraudulent activity.” 

Outlier’s leadership has field reports with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and the Wayne State University Police Department, which is the local law enforcement agency for Outlier.

Regarding fraudulent check scams, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office advises consumers to:

  • Attempt to locate the source of the check.
  • Contact the issuing bank to verify the check’s legitimacy. Do not use the contact information that appears on the check. Instead, conduct an independent search for the bank’s contact information.
  • Be wary of unexpected checks, especially if they appear too good to be true. 

Suspected fraud can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, state attorney general’s office,  and local police departments.

Reach MIRIAM MARINI at miriam@outliermedia.org or 313-480-0567.