Federal authorities say it is an all-too-frequent occurrence that reputable U.S. banks are used as gateways between fraudulent Internet merchants and their victims—often seniors—with the banks themselves making money from the collection of fees. Those fees are assessed to process a return when victims flag an unauthorized charge. Newly unsealed court documents state that First Bank of Delaware, for example, reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with the U.S. Justice Department after it was charged with allowing merchants to illegally debit accounts more than 2 million times and steal more than $100 million. Justice Department officials say they are targeting banks' role in allowing predatory lenders and bogus merchants access to the U.S. financial system.
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