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WaMu Gave Grandma's Money to Crooks

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New York Times Reporting on ICT

The article appeared on May 21, 2007.

click here for more info

Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Check Processor Really Put Out of Business?
The state investigator I've been corresponding with every now and then wrote me today to note that the story I was fed by CCR (see last post) may really be true. She included the following link:

Petro Slams Columbus Firm For Helping Telemarketing Fraud

My question to her: why would they stop the company that was processing the refunds?

Well, in fact, as the Ohio AG's Office press release indicates, this was the company that was taking in the money. I'm sure they were taking in a lot more money than they were giving back -- if they were giving back any at all.

The release notes:

The company often made paper-check withdrawals of hundreds of dollars at a time without consumers authorizing or even knowing about them, an illegal practice known as “slamming,” Petro said. He added that ICT withdrawals that may have been authorized by consumers were nevertheless illegal if they were based on deceptive telemarketing sales pitches by its client firms.


This would explain why my grandma's checks were being cashed in Cleveland. (Ohio is quite the hotbed of corruption.)

Good news -- but then again, I'm sure the crooks behind this are already up and running under a different name. If not, someone's sure to have jumped in their place.

Ultimately, I'm curious to see what kind of sentence, if any, these guys get (if convicted.)

I'm adding them to the watch file:

Thomas Cimicato
Integrated Check Technologies (ITP) of Columbus
Check Free Recovery, Inc. of Columbus
Collect-A-Check of Columbus
Ohio Attorney General, Jim Petro

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comments:

I have a good deal of personal knowledge of ICT. I was their Director of Marketing for a while, and in fact I am the person who coined the name "Integrated Check Technologies" because the name "Collect-a-check" didn't really describe our business.

(You won't be surprised that Cimicato owes me money too - a LOT more than he owes your G'ma, and for a lot longer now - about five years, but I'm not even bothering to try and collect; he'll never pay)

One thing you need to understand though: so-called "check-by-phone" debits are perfectly legal. The Federal Reserve has allowed them for years.

The paper check you posted a copy of is not a forgery, it's perfectly legal. Processors print them up and present them because they're how the clearing house system works: there has to be a paper trail.

Every day, thousands and thousands of people make payments over the phone using this method: it's no different than paying by check on-line. The payee prints up a check like the one you show and present it for payment.

The bottom line here is that your G'ma gave someone her checking account information, which is just as bad as giving them your credit card number.

You never give out this information to anyone, ever.

You may be mad at WaMu for paying this item, and Cimicato may be a shady charaxter (and I know a lot more about him than you ever will) but there is nothing illegal about this transaction; WaMu did nothing wrong, and nothing they don't do hundreds of times every day.

(And the item was paid in Cleveland because that's where NatCity clears all their checks; ICT, Cimicato's company, is (or was) in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus)

Your only real argumnt is with the Telemarketers in Canada. If they defrauded your G'ma out of her account info, then that's a crime, in Canada and everywhere else.

But what they likely did was talk her into buying something which was basically worthless, like "Identity Theft Protection". She was conned out of her money by sleazy telemarketers, not WaMu and not ICT.

Note that the Ohio AG claims that Cimicato knew that the telemarketers were crooked and has charged him with abetting the fraud, NOT with illegally processing that bank item, which - as I said - is a perfectly legal and normal transaction.

Your anger at WaMu is misplaced. They only followed Federal Reserve rules. They could not refuse to process that check.

Sadly, your issue is with the crooks in Canada, and they are likely beyond your reach.
Fred:

I'm a reporter with the New York Times working on a story about ICT, and I would like to speak with you. My name is Charles Duhigg, and my phone number is 212-556-7477. Is there a number or email where I can reach you?

Thanks so much,

Charles
Charles,

I emailed you through the NY Times website. Here's the message:

Hi Charles,

I noticed your post on my blog. Just wished to confirm that this was really yours and to help you out if I can:

http://wamublamesgrandma.blogspot.com/2006/06/check-processor-really-put-out-of.html#4099501994344885353

Chances are the Fred who posted won't see your comment. I'd be happy to add a post on the front page inviting people with info to contact you as it does seem that I get a few ex-employees of ICT checking in from time to time.

If you want to reach me, I can be reached at:

wamuonfraud@gmail.com

If you didn't leave the comment I'm referring to, please let me know and I'll remove it.

Regards,
Tom


Best of luck with your story and please let us know when it goes to publication.
It is 30 May 07 and trust me...these crooks are still at it! They called my mom today and yep, she got confused and verified her checking account number and address...the bastard even said to her "I am recording this so there won't be any confusion about what you are verifying". I would love to have 5 minutes and something hard, like a ballbat, to spend on these pieces of crap! As for our neighbors to the north (Canada)...if they harbor these crooks of the elderly, they should be ashamed! I think we caught this in time to close the account and they can present the check all they want, it won't be paid from that account!
If someone from 866-898-7489, CCR or whatever you are calling yourselves, is reading this...keep your damned brochure and awards coupon you creeps...you aren't getting paid for it!
Thank you for allowing me to say something about these low-lifes!
CLS
It is 30 May 07 and trust me...these crooks are still at it! They called my mom today and yep, she got confused and verified her checking account number and address...the bastard even said to her "I am recording this so there won't be any confusion about what you are verifying". I would love to have 5 minutes and something hard, like a ballbat, to spend on these pieces of crap! As for our neighbors to the north (Canada)...if they harbor these crooks of the elderly, they should be ashamed! I think we caught this in time to close the account and they can present the check all they want, it won't be paid from that account!
If someone from 866-898-7489, CCR or whatever you are calling yourselves, is reading this...keep your damned brochure and awards coupon you creeps...you aren't getting paid for it!
Thank you for allowing me to say something about these low-lifes!
CLS
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