Jesse Jones

Jesse Jones: Victim calls Jesse after bank refuses to reverse $1,200 fraud charge

When Kris Blondin saw a $1,252 charge on her credit card statement, it was clear to her that she had been squared up by a scammer.

“Yeah, it’s pretty mind-blowing,” Blondin said.

After documents showed a fake Square account charged Blondin’s credit card, Bank of America won’t provide a refund.

“It’s not about the money now,” Blondin said. “It’s about getting justice and getting Bank of America to take care of it.”

Square is a portable payment system. It’s easy. With just a swipe, the device charges your card and you’re on your way.

KIRO 7 obtained Blondin’s fuzzy Square receipt.

It shows a fee for consultation and legal fees charged at 3:26 a.m. from a company called NW Investment Holdings in Gig Harbor.

Blondin said the charge is fraud.

“I get a hold of Bank of America, let them know, and they’re like, okay, no worries,” Blondin said. “We’ll take it off your account and we’ll look into it and let you know.”

A few weeks later, Bank of America sent her an email saying it is unable to approve her fraud claim, adding the merchant provided documentation confirming she received the merchandise or service.

“Every single time I ended up trying to work with them three times, every single time, they shined me on, they shined me on,” Blondin said. “It was terrible.”

KIRO 7′s Jesse Jones wondered how Bank of America came to its decision, especially since Kris said she provided the bank with tons of proof the charge was fraudulent.

So Jones checked her story and dug into who owns NW Investment Holdings.

The receipt lists an address and it matches the one he found in the state’s Corporations database.

The receipt also lists Dieter Pryzgoda as the owner.

So Jones stopped by the address.

“I thought right away these are scammers,” Pryzgoda said. “This lady is a victim of scammers.”

Pryzgoda is in his 80′s and says NW Investment Holdings is a maritime holding company and he has never run credit cards for that business.

Blondin even hired an attorney and got Pryzgoda to sign a legal declaration saying the charge on her card was not legitimate.

Jones sent all of the documentation to Square and Bank of America.

Square responded in just a few days saying it’s possible Pryzgoda’s banking information may have been stolen in another organization’s data breach adding, “…fraudsters are able to use this compromised information to open fake accounts at financial institutions such as Square.”

Jones also learned that “the fake account in question was deactivated.”

“Consumers do have protections where if they report that unauthorized charge, the bank investigates,” said Anita Ramasastry, a law professor at the University of Washington. “And then again, liability is at most should be $50 or typically zero.”

Ramasastry said if consumers have a dispute over a credit card charge with financial apps like Square, cash app, or Clover, they’re should go to their card issuer to deal with it.

And if there’s fraud found, they must pass that loss along to some entity.

“But the case here is that who do you pass the loss back to? So I don’t know whether that’s what’s motivating Bank of America to act this way,” Ramasastry said. “But if there’s clear evidence, really, it’s surprising that that that there’s any liability for the consumer.”

In fact, Bank of America has a Zero Liability Guarantee, which says, “You may incur no liability for unauthorized use of your card or card number up to the amount of the unauthorized transaction.”

Since Square says it’s seen fraudulent accounts in the past, Blondin wonders how many other Bank of America customers have had the same issue and have received the same response.

“Well, my hope is that somebody else will speak up that has maybe acquiesced to the process and went, wait a minute, you know, I had the same thing happen to me,” Blondin said. “And if that happens. Who knows how it could escalate.”

Later, Jones got a call from Bank of America and they returned all of Blondin’s money.

Bank of America issued the following statement abut the incident:

This issue has been resolved for our customer. Scammers are increasingly sophisticated. In this instance, they used a payment platform and it can be difficult to detect.