Relationships Help Prevent Consumer Fraud

In the professional and personal sectors, relationships are vital. With fraudulent activity on the rise, knowing who you do business with can serve well in times when character is tested.


At Fidelity Bank of Florida, the connections between bankers and their customers are not only valued, but can easily keep fraud from occurring. These relationships, typically only found within community banks, have become even more important as they continue to combat consumer fraud. While there’s always been a focus on protecting customer assets at Fidelity Bank of Florida, knowledge of its customers has also proven to be an invaluable tool in preventing scams.

Fidelity’s Vice President and Office Manager, Helen Barnabei, was behind the teller line when an unfamiliar person came in to cash a check that was ‘allegedly written’ by one of the bank’s well-known customers. Having been with the company for over 13 years, Barnabei recognized some ‘red flags’ as she engaged in conversation with the non-customer.

“Personally knowing many bank customers and being familiar with this particular customer’s banking habits, it was quickly determined it was not this customer’s signature or handwriting on the check,” Barnabei said. “I was able to stop a stolen check from being cashed, simply by knowing our customers’ banking behaviors.

Although not all stopped fraudulent transactions end in an arrest, the bank was able to assist in making sure this o ender was arrested. For the customer who was affected by this incident, Barnabei said she thinks the customer feels a sense of relief knowing the suspect was apprehended and the bank was able to protect her money and avoid any potential losses.

Office Manager Helen Barnabei says in addition to the bonds formed with the customer, experience helps in protecting consumers against theft.

For the bank’s Customer Service Representative Lynn Forst, having previously seen scams helped her protect another customer and avoid being affected by the “grandparent scam.” This was the fourth time she has seen this scam attempted. The con artist targets the elderly with telephone calls pretending to be their younger relatives calling for money to be wired or put into a money order to help them with emergency medical attention or legal trouble they are “supposedly in.”


“Our motto at Fidelity Bank of Florida is ‘Large enough to serve you, Small enough to know you’ which is what our bank practices daily.

Customer Service Representative – Lynn Forst


Forst saw this scam take place when a familiar customer entered the bank intending to withdraw a large amount of money for her nephew who was supposedly in trouble. The customer was agitated and scared, believing she had to send the money, despite Forst knowing it was a scam.

“She wasn’t listening to me at first,” Forst said. “[ The scammers] have these victims so convinced that harm’s going to come to their loved one.” Finally, Forst decided to call the number our customer received for information on her nephew.

“I called the number my customer was provided (on speakerphone) and somebody answered the phone pretending to be the police,” Forst said. “I told this person that under no circumstances would any police agency want my customer to send $8,000 via Target gift cards. He immediately hung up.”

The customer realized she had been scammed through the phone call. A Brevard County sheri ’s deputy came to the bank to speak with her, and Forst made a phone call to her nephew’s father, who noted his son wasn’t in trouble and was actually right next to him cutting a tree down.

In the battle against consumer fraud, the relationships established at community banks like Fidelity Bank of Florida help bankers provide a better service to their customers.

“Our motto at Fidelity Bank of Florida is ‘Large enough to serve you, small enough to know you’ which is what our bank practices daily,” Forst said. “We are given the products to fully service our customers and the time to build the rapport so we get to know them. If I didn’t have the ability to do that, these people could potentially lose a large sum of money. We look out for our customers, not just because it’s our job, but because we’ve taken the time to care about them.”