Person-to-person money transfer apps come in handy for many people as a convenient way to pay, but they can be an even better way for scammers to steal your money.
The clouds of a perfect storm began to gather in Chuck Weaver’s life when he lost his job, nearing the end of a 30-year career.
“I have no income; I have nothing to live for,” he told us.
Then, after losing his insurance, doctors now say he needs a kidney transplant for a fatal disease that runs through his family.
“I’m still shaking,” Chuck continued.
Shaken in his heart, only to have all the money he had left from dwindling savings and unemployment that was soon to end.
“Honestly, I don’t know what to do. Honestly, I’m lost right now.
Chuck says an impostor claiming to be a Bank of America representative called from a spoofed number.
“That’s the kicker, they’re calling from a Bank of America, a 1-800 phone number, which if you hang up and call back, you’re calling corporate office.”
The scammer claimed that the bank had already stopped a fraudulent transaction on this checking account, but that his savings account was still in danger. There was a pending transaction of $3,500, he was told.
Chuck had to transfer $3,500 from his savings account to himself through Zelle, so that money couldn’t be stolen. Which he did, since the impostor had most of his personal and financial information, including his Bank of America accounts.
“All the signs were there that it was legit,” Chuck says.
So you can only imagine how Chuck felt the next day when he himself called BOA to find that all his money was gone.
“Crazy, frustrated, feeling a total loss, and just feeling stupid, but realizing how elaborate this scam is.”
It’s a bit of comfort for Chuck to know he’s not alone.
“No matter how smart you are, criminals can be smarter,” Chuck says.
“It’s almost a perfect scam,” according to consumer expert Bob Sullivan.
He tells us that the spoofed phone number and details that the scammers have somehow hacked is a blow, which lands on scam victims across the country.
“And what else are you going to do except Bank of America calling you back?” Sullivan asks.
As for Chuck, Bank of America told him they couldn’t help because cash apps like Zelle are third-party apps, not operated by the bank.
That’s why Chuck wants to warn the others.
“I know my own situation, but I also know that there are people in a much more difficult situation than me.”
Chuck says he looks for another job every day, but says the field of design writing has dried up, at least for now.
What to do next leaves him shaking his head, but Chuck is determined to take one setback at a time and face it head-on, as the perfect scam piles up on the perfect storm of his life.
Digging deeper, we found that it is common for scammers to pretend to be a variety of banks and companies to trick victims.
In Chuck’s case, Bank of America says it can’t comment on an individual account.
Here is a statement from Bank of America:
“It’s unfortunate when people fall for scams like this and send money to scammers pretending to be a legitimate business.
Banks would not ask a customer to transfer funds between accounts to prevent fraud or ask for sensitive account information. We alert customers during the transaction if they are sending money to a new recipient that they should only send to people they know and trust and never transfer money afterwards an unexpected call or SMS.
Additionally, they see: “WARNING: Bank of America will never ask you to transfer money to anyone, including yourself. Do not transfer money following an unexpected text or call. To proceed with the transaction, they must click OK. We also have a number of measures in place to proactively warn customers of scams, and we periodically contact customers with information on how to stay safe and avoid scams.
Additionally, we keep our customers informed of new scam alerts through our Customer Security Center at our website.
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