Action 9 started investigating after scammers took nearly $24,000 out of a Volusia County couple’s bank account.
“Being 79, I don’t intend to go looking for a job unless I have to,” Paulette Pierson said after a huge chunk retirement money she and her husband had socked away disappeared.
It was money her husband said they had worked all of their lives to save up.
The nightmare started in January when Pierson received a couple of calls from people claiming to be from Wells Fargo. The callers let her know about a wire transfer from their account. It was a transaction Pierson said she didn’t authorize.
“Well, panic first off, because of the amount of money I just didn’t know what to think,” she told Action 9.
Pierson contacted Wells Fargo and confirmed the money was gone from their account. She reported it to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, filed a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and even wrote a letter to the governor.
She told Action 9, Wells Fargo let them know someone in Iowa received the wire transfer, but the bank closed its investigation into the matter twice without any refund for Pierson and her husband. Then early this month the couple signed off on going to mediation to let a third party determine if they’re entitled to any money back.
Eva Velasquez with the Identity Theft Resource Center told us social engineering and phishing types of attacks are running rampant and scammers are using all kinds of technologies to hack into people’s accounts.
“We’re encouraging victims to always contact their financial institutions, put in a fraud complaint and seek reimbursement,” Velasquez said.
In this case, after Action 9 contacted Wells Fargo, Pierson said the bank agreed to refund all of their money and they received a check for the entire amount.
Wells Fargo said it appears the victims gave a one-time access code to the scammers which enabled the wire transfer.
The company sent this statement:
“We conducted a thorough investigation that confirmed our customer was the victim of an imposter scam. Following this additional review, we are pleased to resolve this issue for our customer.
It’s important for everyone to be vigilant and aware of common scams to avoid falling victim. Be wary of unexpected calls, texts, social media posts, or emails from scammers impersonating tech support companies, banks and government agencies. If you give a scammer access to your accounts and they remove funds, you may not be able to get your money back. Don’t be afraid to end communication with the person who contacted you and take time to research.”
Pierson said she is thankful to have received the money back. “I had just gotten to the point where it just culminated and I just couldn’t handle it.”
Wells Fargo also offered these additional tips:
· Many scams start with a simple call, email, or message impersonating a person or company you know to trick you into giving them your money, account information or verification codes.
· Scammers can spoof their caller ID number and use bits of your personal information to convince you to reveal your verification code and steal your money.
· Don’t give your account information or verification codes to anyone you don’t know or a company you can’t confirm as legitimate.
· Know that your bank will never ask you to send money to anyone, including yourself, to “reverse a transfer,” “receive a refund,” or anything similar.
It’s also a good idea to report this kind of scam through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center immediately at www.ic3.gov to help your chances of recovering the money.
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