Bulletin: NL000101

Date:
April 19, 2001
To:
All Region Managers, District Manager and Issuing Offices
RE:
Internet and Mail Fraud
Dear Associates:

Recently the company has been the target of a known fraud scheme, and another scheme that we suspect may be fraudulent.

The suspected fraud involves a request to undertake escrow functions for a company based in the Caribbean Islands. Two individuals purporting to represent a housing developer called our office and asked Stewart to accept a "bank guarantee" and then monitor and disburse construction loan funds and funds for bridge financing. The request was not in connection with any specific real estate transactions, and there were neither any contracts nor requests for title insurance. We believe this phone call may have been an attempt at outright fraud (the "bank guaranty" would only appear to be available funds) but it may also have been an attempt to use Stewart to launder money.

The known fraud involves a specific foreign country. The sender purports to be an official of this country' individuals and businesses in the United States and other countries. The letter says that a reputable foreign company or individual is needed for the deposit of an overpayment on a procurement contract. The letter will claim that the sender's government overpaid anywhere from $10 to $60 million on these contracts.

The sender asks the recipient to provide funds to cover various fees and for personal identifiers such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and wiring instructions. Once this information is received, the victims find that they have lost large sums of money. It is hard to pinpoint how much has been lost in these scams since many victims do not report their losses to authorities due to fear or embarrassment. U.S. Secret Service agents accompanied that nation's police as they executed search warrants that resulted in the arrest of 43 individuals in 1996, but the scam has now surfaced on the internet.

The US Secret Service (division of the US Dept of the Treasury) advisory on these financial scams is at http://www.treas.gov/usss/financial_crimes.htm#Nigerian and Treasury Dept Alert is at http://www.treas.gov/usss/index.htm?alert419.htm&1 and the U.S. Dept. of State advisory is at http://www.state.gov/www/regions/africa/naffpub.pdf . Other resources are available.

HERE ARE INSTRUCTIONS FOR HANDLING THESE MATTERS:
If a fraud has been perpetrated against you or your agency, or if you become aware of any activity which you feel may constitute an effort to defraud you agency and/or Stewart Title Guaranty Company, please report the activity immediately to:

Patrick R. Thesing
Senior Vice President / Chief Claims Counsel
National Legal Department
1980 Post Oak Blvd. Suite 710
Houston, Texas 77056
National (800) 729-1902
Local: (713) 625-8225
Facsimile: (713) 629-2248
Email: Pthesing@Stewart.com

If you receive a letter or email offering to let you share in a foreign government's overpayment, or any other scheme that looks too good to be true:

1. First, please do not respond IN ANY WAY to the sender, even including "removal requests."

2. Do NOT forward this to other staff members or colleagues, even for informational purposes.

3. Do not delete the email until you have forwarded the email and full header (or other contact information) to abuse@stewart.com . (In Stewart's Outlook address book it is as "Internet Email Abuse"). If you do not know how to capture the header from an email, the Stewart security analysts can walk you through how to do it. Contact them via email at abuse@stewart.com .

4. The Chief Information Security Officer for Stewart Title Guaranty Company Audit Services in conjunction with SISCO/Stewart Title National Legal counsel will handle and report this situation in the appropriate manner.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
NL000073 Stewart Title Guaranty Company Anti-Fraud Plan
 
NL000084 Stewart Title Guaranty Company Antifraud Plan
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None