Health and Fitness

Zelle scam: Bank impostor taunts San Jose woman after stealing $3,500 using her name


SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — 7 On Your Facet has been reporting on a pernicious rip-off spreading throughout the nation. Imposters, posing as financial institution staff, trick victims into sending them cash by Zelle, the favored quick-pay app.

Now the scammers appear bolder than ever, laughing at their victims after stealing their cash.

It occurred to a Wells Fargo financial institution buyer from San Jose. She got here to 7 On Your Facet’s Michael Finney for assist.

Seconds after this sufferer hit the ship button, she realized it was a rip-off. She yelled on the financial institution imposter who was nonetheless on the telephone. He started taunting her. She referred to as the true financial institution, and mentioned the financial institution merely gave her the brushoff. Now she’s unsure which one made her extra livid.

Lisa Landry of San Jose particulars her horror at watching the rip-off play out. “I’m like, ‘Oh my, oh my,’ I’m holding my head, ‘Oh my god.”’

The moment is seared in Landry’s head. She watched $3,500 disappear from her bank account.

The scammer who took it was still on the phone.

“And the man knew that I knew and he clowned me. He taunted me,” she said. “I used to be like, ‘You assume that is humorous. Now that is hilarious to you? You are taking my $3,500 and pound it in your…’ and I hung up.”

It happened during a busy night when Landry was working at the Cal Expo Winter Wonderland, manning a booth.

VIDEO: Calif. woman loses over $18K through ‘Zelle’ after scammers text, call her pretending to be bank

“I used to be promoting novelties. You already know stuffed animals, light-up roses…” Landry explained.

As it happened, Landry had no credit card terminal so she was using her personal Zelle account to collect money.

That’s when it happened.

“I received this name, it says ‘Wells Fargo,'” she said.

The caller said he was from the bank, and someone was taking money from her account.

“I believed, ‘Oh my god considered one of these clients should’ve accessed my account, we’re on an open WiFi’… this might be taking place, simply,” she said.

Landry was trying to figure out whom to trust — the customers around her, or the guy on the phone.

“I mentioned to the man, ‘How do I do know you are actually the financial institution?’ He goes, ‘Examine the caller ID, is not that the quantity on the again of your debit card?’ It was, it matched. So I saved speaking to this individual,” she said.

RELATED: Got scammed? You can no longer deduct it on your taxes

The man on the phone said she’d better act fast or lose her money.

“Oh my god no matter now we have to do, now we have to rush, so I am in panic mode,” Landry said.

The man told her she could reverse the fraudulent transaction by sending the money back to herself through Zelle. The man told her to delete her phone number from Zelle and put her own name as a recipient.

“Right here I’m, frantically attempting to cease my cash from being suspiciously taken from my Zelle account…” Landry said.

She was still in charge of a booth, the expo was loud, and the man was telling her to hurry.

“I am involved about my sales space, there’s clients, I’ve received this factor taking place, I even referred to as my boss over. I advised him, ‘The financial institution is telling me my cash is being messed with,'” she said.

“There’s a lot happening, there’s so many individuals, I am unable to focus,” Landry explained.

So she ducked into a restroom, and followed the man’s instructions. She sent $3,000 through Zelle, then another $499.

WATCH: Victim of the Bank of America, Zelle scam? Here are your rights

Text messages from Wells Fargo Bank seemed to confirm she was indeed getting her money back. The messages said “Fee despatched, $3,000 despatched to Lisa Landry,” and “$499 despatched to Lisa Landry.”

That was her.

Yet, when she checked her account, the money was gone.

Landry is still mystified about how that could be.

“I assume my identify actually is not my identify, someway? I am authorizing cash to enter my Zelle to my identify, however it does not really go to my identify? Pwhooosh!” she said, gesturing as if she felt her head explode.

Unbeknownst to Landry, the imposters had tricked her into giving up her account information. They used her name and her phone number to create their own Zelle account to receive her money.

And that caller ID? That was fake too — a spoof!

“That is once I ran out of the toilet. I went over to the stand. I mentioned it out loud to people who find themselves standing clients, ‘Everyone. I simply received taken for $3,500 from some Zelle rip-off!” she said.

RELATED: Banks tell customers they’re responsible if they pay Zelle scammers

The man was still on the phone. Landry demanded his bank ID number.

“He mentioned, ‘Certain, it is 6-6-6!’ I mentioned, ‘You have to be kidding me, you are giving me the signal of the satan?”‘ said Landry.

Landry called Wells Fargo immediately to stop the transfer. But the bank didn’t take the quick action she hoped for. Customer service told her to file a claim, then weeks later Wells Fargo denied it, saying she authorized the transaction and Zelle has no fraud protections, so she was not entitled to a refund.

Landry was livid.

“Though I’ll have approved this, you recognize, it is fraudulent. You have had expertise with this. You’ve gotten full data that the Zelle rip-off is current and has existed for a while. So you are going to give me my a refund! That is what you are going to do,” she said.

But it didn’t.

Wells Fargo told her it does warn customers about the scam when they call the fraud department.

But Landry says by then it’s too late.

VIDEO: Bank of America won’t say why it gave refunds to some Zelle scam victims but not others

“Why would you name the fraud division simply willy nilly? ‘I am simply gonna name Wells Fargo fraud division, only for kicks.’ The financial institution knew about this rip-off, that is my downside with this,” she said.

Wells Fargo has refunded some customers who fell victim to this same scam, but not others, and has declined to explain the reasoning. The bank tells 7 On Your Side:

“We by no means wish to see anybody develop into the sufferer of a rip-off and we’re actively working to boost consciousness to assist stop these heartbreaking incidents.”

Meanwhile, Landry is left to deal with the devastating impact of the scam.

“Afterwards when it hits you and the drama of all of it subsides, you are left with your account going, ‘I simply labored for 2 months for nothing,”‘ she said.

Consumer advocates say Zelle makes it too easy for scammers to hijack accounts, since all anyone needs to receive money is a phone number or email. If it’s happened to you, contact 7 On Your Side to tell us about it.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

Have a question for Michael and the 7 On Your Side team? Fill out the form HERE!

7OYS’s consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please overview our FAQ right here. As part of our course of in aiding you, it’s needed that we contact the corporate / company you might be writing about. If you don’t want us to contact them, please tell us immediately, as it would have an effect on our skill to work in your case. As a result of excessive quantity of emails we obtain, please permit 3-5 enterprise days for a response.

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