Consumers who might feel taken advantage of by con artists who claim they'll hope lower or resolve debts if an advance fee is paid might take some comfort in learning that troubled banks are falling for a similar scam.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. sent a special alert Monday that warns, "Individuals or purported investment advisers may be attempting to defraud financially weak institutions by collecting due diligence fees and other expenses based on their claims of having access to investment funds."

The FDIC says it's aware of "multiple instances" where financially weak institutions have been approached by those claiming to have backing by prominent individuals or approval from one or more federal banking regulators to invest substantial sums in the troubled institution.

According to the FDIC alert, "Institutions should be extremely cautious if approached by any party in a similar manner. Before entering into any agreements or paying any funds, targeted institutions should verify the credibility of such solicitations, including the credibility of the investor group, their principals and their representatives.

 

"If, following assessment of the parties and proposal, it appears likely that a proposal is fraudulent, institutions should submit a Suspicious Activity Report [to the FDIC's Rules and Regulations]."

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