Zelle scam: Wells Fargo customers lose thousands after scammers pose as bankers

CONCORD, Calif. Amid the rise in popularity of instant payment apps, scammers are also increasingly using digital payment platforms like Zelle to drain victims’ bank accounts.

ABC-owned TV station first reported on Popular Zelle plans related to Bank of America customersBut scammers are leveraging the platform’s instant, irreversible transactions – and the federal government’s opaque regulations – to get more creative in their field.

In the latest development, scammers are posing as Wells Fargo bankers to solicit money.

Our sister station KGO-TV reported that Cynthia Marin of Concord, California, received a message asking if she would approve the Zelle trade with “TRAVIS” for $3,500. She replied, “No.”

Soon after, she received a call from a Wells Fargo number. This could be an example of forgerymeans that the caller intentionally falsifies information transmitted to Marin’s Caller ID screen.

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Marin said the woman on the other end of the line told her someone was withdrawing money on her behalf, and she needed to quickly send the money back to her account through Zelle to prevent it.

The scammer then instructed Marin to initiate the transfer by entering her first and last name in the “Add recipient” field and leaving her email or phone number field blank.

After the transfer was processed, Marin received a notification from Zelle that “Cynthia Marin” was now the recipient. She also received written notices that appeared legit.

“CYNTHIA MARIN sent you $1,000 in Zelle. To get your money go to: Reply STOP to end message or HELP for help,” reads read.

However, the impostors created a Zelle account in her name and used it to receive those funds.

When Marin checked her Wells Fargo account, it was only $6.

“The money is gone. It’s gone,” she said.

“It’s just scary. It’s a scary feeling,” she added.

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Scammers also preyed on Kelly Reynolds, of San Jose, California, using a similar technique.

Reynolds told KGO-TV that the scammer not only faked the call, but also gave her the name of an actual Wells Fargo banker.

Two victims said Wells Fargo did little to help protect their funds. Both filed claims, and both were denied. Wells Fargo says its Zelle payments have been “processed on request” and, as a result, refunds will not be processed.

“They really did nothing,” Reynolds said.

“Whether I have a dollar in it, or I have a million dollars in it, I should be protected,” Marin agrees.

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When reports of Zelle scams mushroomed in 2021, Bank of America and other entities initially refused to issue refunds, claiming that customers “authorised the transactions” and that Zelle was a “third party apps” have no protection against fraud. (Zelle is owned by Early Warning Services, LLC, a private financial services firm owned by Bank of America, Truist, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, US Bank and Wells Fargo.)

Bank of America has refunded some customers after KGO-TV reported that Federal Electronic Funds Transfer Act ask the bank to refund the consumer due to fraud.

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And unlike credit cards, most instant payment apps don’t offer fraud protection.

“There’s almost no consumer protection for these Zelle deals. So people started using them, like you might use a credit card to buy tickets to a concert. that they saw on Craigslist, and it was a bad idea because there was no way to get Bob Sullivan, said the cybersecurity expert.

Advocates say federal law should protect consumers in these scams because they have been tricked into giving their money and banks must protect their customers’ accounts.

They want the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to crack down on banks that don’t refund customers or put in place more protections for Zelle’s money transfers.

“It may take years for bankers to catch up on what’s happening with Zelle,” said Sullivan.

And while the managers played catch up, Zelle continued to grow. The company recently reported that 1.8 billion payments were sent in 2021, up 49% from a year earlier.

Wells Fargo told KGO-TV that it investigates each individual fraud case. Its full statement is as follows:

It’s amazing that scammers are actively pursuing and defrauding victims, and we understand their frustrations and anger. We don’t want anyone to scam and we want to make sure everyone is aware that criminals can spoof a caller’s ID number so it looks like a call or text from a bank. your. To be safe, don’t respond. Contact your bank using legitimate sources, such as the number on the back of your debit card.

We are actively working to raise awareness of common scams and remind customers that Zelle transfers are instant and should be treated like cash. At the same time, we continue to update and strengthen our methods and processes to combat and help prevent fraud.

We are also committed to following all regulations that govern transactions, including Regulation E. It is a priority for us and our industry.

  • When we are notified of a scam, we have a thorough investigation process in place to study the complaint. Upon completion of the investigation, we will report the findings directly to the customer.
  • As Zelle is an instant form of payment, recovery for scam victims is often not possible, however, we will work with financial institutions and law enforcement another in an effort to track down the suspects and try to recover money for its customers.
  • We are unable to discuss specific customer-related information or our investigation of complaints filed, due to customer privacy and security.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. Copyright Registered. Zelle scam: Wells Fargo customers lose thousands after scammers pose as bankers

Dais Johnston

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