Action 9

‘What the hell is this’: Local man discovers life savings drained from bank account

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. — An Altamonte Springs man claims someone raided his bank account and stole over $30,000.

He thought the bank would cover his fraud losses but when it rejected his claim, he called Action 9.

“Then I look at my statement and say, ‘What the hell is this?’” Miguel Cruz said.

Cruz had checked his bank statement for the first time in months. He is 81 years old and was in and out of the hospital, on dialysis. Cruz says the last year has been a blur.

He claims $33,000 was drained from his BB&T checking account.

“My money’s gone. I get stressed. I get loco,” Cruz said.

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He reviewed the most recent bank statements and found over 180 Amazon charges he says he never made.

Cruz’s son-in-law, Carlos Garcia, said he found charges as high as $1,400, “He doesn’t have an Amazon account. He doesn’t have wi-fi. He doesn’t have a smartphone.”

Both men say there were no Amazon deliveries to Cruz’s home. They suspect someone may have swiped his debit card information at a local restaurant. Cruz had used his debit card there right before the Amazon spending spree began.

“This is the definition of fraud. He didn’t make these charges,” Garcia said.

Cruz filed fraud reports with the Seminole County Sheriff’s office, the Florida Attorney General and federal bank regulators.

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Cruz said he can’t accept the response he received from BB&T. The bank said he would not be reimbursed for his $33,000 loss because it should have been reported at once and he missed a 60-day deadline.

“The money was there to survive, pay bills, power, cable, food,” Cruz said.

Debit cards are like checks that take cash right out of your bank account. Consumer attorney Jared Lee says the federal Electronic Funds Transfer Act limits fraud protection for debit cards and requires customer vigilance.

“Certainly it is very, very important to keep track of your bank statements, those are sent for a purpose and make sure you review them as quickly as possible,” Lee said.

Action 9 contacted BB&T managers who said the bank is reviewing his complaint.

“Have to find out how to get my money back,” Cruz said.

If, for any reason, you can’t monitor your checking account several times a week, a debit card can be too risky to use. Credit cards offer far better protection.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich,

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.