CONCORD, Calif. -- The imposters struck just as nurse Page Pollack was running to catch a flight. At the airport she got a text saying, "Bank of America fraud alert. Did you just attempt a Zelle transaction of $3,500? Please reply yes or no."
"So I thought, 'Oh my gosh I didn't authorize a $3,500 transfer through Zelle,'" Pollack recalled. "So I typed 'no.'"
Then her phone rang. The caller ID said Bank of America. She answered and was told the only way to stop the fraud was to make another Zelle transaction. Boarding the plane, she grew more suspicious and opened the B of A app on her phone.
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"Sure enough, I looked at my account and $3,500 was gone, right then and there, you see that $3,500 and your heart just sinks," Pollack said.
That is a sinking feeling Trista Beauchamp from Concord felt too. She was conned in exactly the same way.
"We were pretty well convinced that there was no way we were getting that money back, so we did nothing," she told 7 On Your Side. "But I started seeing your pieces and the people describing exactly what we went through, including having it be a Zelle transaction specifically, so I reached out to you."
Beauchamp says she was caught at a bad moment too, and the scam is complex.
"It's very confusing and you're sort of going, 'This doesn't quite seem right,' and at the same time... It's -- they just 'smoke and mirrors' and they got me," she said.
ABC7's 7 On Your Side team have received quite a few complaints -- and these scams aren't just happening here in the Bay Area.
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Our Chicago ABC station, WLS, found victims too.
Nausheen Brooks was taken for $3,500. "You save your hard-earned money, to just be taken away from you. You just don't know what to do, you feel lost," Brooks said.
New victim, old scam: texts, phone calls and fake phone numbers. Consumer Action's Linda Sherry has seen it all before.
"It's a false sense of urgency; it's always about, you know, act now, act quickly, hurry up... you know, the sky is falling," she said. "Guard against getting too excited in the moment... step back and think, is this really realistic? Could this possibly be true?"
After 7 On Your Side got involved, Pollack got a call from Bank of America.
"I said, 'So that means I get my money back?' She says, 'Yes', so I just started crying! I am just beyond grateful, beyond appreciative. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart," Pollack told 7 On Your Side.
Beauchamp got her money back, too.
"My advice is first of all, wait a beat, because it's easy to react when someone tells you that there's fraud on your account but taking just, you know, take a moment and remember that you've seen this story, and you know, these things are happening," she says.
Bank of America has posted a warning about this on its website, and for this report told us in part:
It's important that viewers understand that the bank and other companies would not ask customers to transfer money between accounts in this manner or request sensitive account information.
Zelle's network operator, Early Warning Services, LLC, agrees and added:
This is likely an example of a phishing scam where the scammer spoofed the bank phone number and attempted to convince the individual to provide their personal information, not a breach of the bank's or Zelle security.
7 On Your Side's best advice here is never respond to unsolicited emails, texts or phone calls, and be cautious even if the caller ID says the name of your bank or another financial institution. Look up the contact information online and reach out to the bank directly.
Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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