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Imposter bank scammers steal $10,000 from Evergreen woman

A wire transfer loophole is leaving customers vulnerable
Fraud text from fake Chase
Posted at 5:45 PM, Jan 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-01 20:17:51-05

EVERGREEN, Colo. — As a former journalist, Betsy Rich can usually sniff out a story.

"I was a producer for ABC News, based in London and New York," Rich said. "I'm a pretty suspicious person. So, I was really surprised when I became the victim of this scam."

Last month, the Evergreen resident received a text alerting her to fraud on her Chase account. It asked if she had authorized a $1,700 transfer and to respond yes or no.

"And I answered no," said Rich.

Her phone immediately rang, and the number matched the customer service number on the back of her debit card. The caller knew Rich's account number, address, and balance, and said someone was actively transferring money out of her account.

"It was very urgent, and he said that it was continuing as we were speaking," Rich said. "So, I immediately picked up the other phone and called Chase Fraud. It was a 20-minute wait. Their live chat wasn't available either. And our branch wasn't open."

The caller asked Rich to change her PIN or risk losing more money from fraudulent ATM withdrawals. She texted her PIN, and shortly after $10,700 disappeared from her account.

Imposter bank scammers steal $10,000 from Evergreen woman

"When we told Chase — within 15 minutes of the fraud occurring — nothing happened," she said.

It's a story all too familiar to Denver7 Investigates: scammers spoof the phone numbers of banks, businesses, and government agencies so that it appears that they are calling from legitimate organizations.

The impostors gain your trust, often with information they have accessed through data breaches.

While lawmakers have been fighting for more consumer protections, federal banking laws currently do not cover wire transfer fraud, a loophole scammers and banks are well aware of.

When Denver7 asked about Rich's $10,000 loss, a Chase bank representative sent a statement saying in part: "Beware of new contacts asking you for codes, access to your device, or to send them or yourself money in order to prevent fraudulent activity... Chase, other banks, law enforcement, and technology companies won’t ask you to do this, but scammers will."

Rich received a letter denying her fraud claim from Chase Bank, which she called insulting.

"It says, 'We are denying your claim because we determined that the items being disputed were authorized.' No, they weren't! 'Or you received a benefit from the item.' You stole my money. That's ridiculous," said Rich.

While the bank did return $1,700 in wire transfers, she is out $9,000 that was supposed to pay for her hail-damaged roof.

Why her bank wouldn't raise a red flag about a large, out-of-character wire transfer — "I've never made a wire transfer to another person that I know of," she said — is a question the former journalist is asking everyone she can think of.

"There's a lot that could be done to protect consumers and no one's doing it. And that's a shame," she said.

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