LAKEWOOD, Wash. — Fake accounts on Instagram, for example, will be made with real photos of military personnel online, attached to a different name.
One user we found, “ladyusaa” or “missband100” connects with other users who are in the military. She posted snapshots of large deposits in bank accounts, saying this is a legitimate way to earn extra money.
“This is how legit this is if you have an active #USAA account,” posted user ‘ladyusaa.’ “If you have checking/saving and mobile deposit you can make money. It’s free to start.”
The Better Business Bureau spokesperson, David Quinlan, said no one locally has reported being a victim of this fraud, but several people nationally have said they fell for the trap and wrote to a website dedicated to the military.
Quinlan said the conversations they develop are meant to be personal.
“They’re real. And unfortunately the bad guys are able to prey on those emotions,” he said.
Once scammers have an account login or PIN, they will deposit several thousand dollars. Before the bank finds out it’s a bad check, the person withdraws half the amount as a “fee” and leaves the account holder owing the entirety.
David Locke, who banks with USAA, said, “We get hit up bad enough as it is. Then somebody out there deliberately trying to rip us off is even worse.”
KIRO 7 attempted to contact the Instagram user. The person responded to our text, asking us to use direct messaging on Instagram instead. But the account was made private.
“It’s normally an attractive male or female, and they friend you on Instagram. Then, at that point, they’ll say hey, make money, legit, $5,000,” said Tom Shaw, the vice president of Enterprise Financial Crimes Management with USAA.
The warning is to never give personal or bank information to someone on social media, even if that person seems to be trustworthy and engaging in conversation.
Shaw said some of the people who have their accounts wiped clean are actually participating in the fraud on purpose. They then report to USAA that their card or login has been lost, so they can have the bank replenish the account.
But now, Shaw said “Regardless either way, if they’re a victim, or if they’re collusive, they’re still liable for the losses.”
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