SEATTLE — Susan Youth lost all of her money, more than $29,000, through an intricate scam.
“It’s devastating. I feel like my world is collapsed in on me. I feel like I’ve been violated. I feel scared,” said Susan.
It started when Susan received a text and email asking if she had spent $99 at a store in Florida.
“I immediately called my bank, Chase,” said Susan. “And as I was calling that number, the same number I had just called was calling me back, and it said ‘Chase.’ And it was the exact same number, but it wasn’t Chase. It was an imposter.”
She said the scammer appeared to have some of her banking information.
“They were calling regarding the charges. They wanted to authenticate me. I didn’t give them my Social Security. I didn’t give them my PIN number. They authenticated me just like Chase does with a text, with a code. And after that, they seemed to have all my information,” said Susan.
The scammer then directed Susan to transfer two $14,900 wires to stop an ongoing fraud. That was 100% fake.
But still, she says something didn’t feel right.
“I immediately called Chase to alert them and was put through the wringer of eight different departments. Nobody. The right hand wasn’t talking to the left to try to get a hold of somebody,” said Susan.
By then, the money was wired to a Wells Fargo Bank in Houston.
And sadly, she’s not the only person who’s been targeted.
“I’ve never had that much money in my account. So for me to lose all of it in a matter of five minutes is very traumatic,” said Courtney Capo, who lives in Florida.
From Florida to Illinois, we’ve seen reports of the same scam in nine different states, with victims hit for tens of thousands of dollars.
“How fast can all of this happen?” asked KIRO 7′s Jesse Jones.
“Oh, super quick. Especially if it’s just domestic,” said Supervisory Special Agent Tammy Mizer with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mizer said scammers want to wire the cash. However, Susan said Chase first directed her to file fraud paperwork.
“And I’m like, frantic … I reversed these. What’s going on,” said Susan. “(Chase replied) ‘Well, we’ll have to send you fraud paperwork. That’ll take about a week … and then we’ll be able to investigate.’”
Susan made the right move to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, also known as IC3. It can check all sides of the wire fraud 24/7.
“So if you’re saying this victim saying, ‘Hey, I sent money from this bank to this ... other bank in another city,’ then you know, we’re immediately basically tapping both of those and saying, ‘Hey, this was fraud. Hey, this was fraud.’ You need to freeze those funds until this gets resolved in some form or fashion,” said Mizer.
Chase says it contacted Wells Fargo the day after the wire transfer but said the recovery efforts depend on Wells Fargo.
Here are a few tips to protect yourself from fraud:
- Never provide any personal information to anyone who claims to be your bank over the phone.
- Never believe caller ID.
- Get a fraud notification? Call the bank yourself to verify.
- Never give anyone remote access to your phone or computer.
- Slow down. People make mistakes when they are in a hurry.
The bottom line is there’s no guaranteed timeline if or when a consumer could get their money back.
Susan says she’s still fighting, but she says one of her last conversations with Chase, when she asked for help with documentation, didn’t provide hope.
“He says, ‘We don’t provide that, and we’re out. This is on you.’ This is what he said to me,” said Susan. “I think everyone who hears this story should remove their money from Chase because Chase isn’t going to protect you,” said Susan.
Susan says she will get $10,000 back. That’s it – and she’ll have to wait up to three months to get it.
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