'I'm in shambles': NC woman has $20,000 drained from her bank by sly scam artist

Thursday, November 18, 2021
BURLINGTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- What started as a call about a fraudulent charge on a bank card ended with $20,000 gone from Burlington woman's bank account.

Amanda, who asked us not to use her last name, said she got an automated call from USAA about a $1,500 fraud charge.

"If you did not authorize this charge press one. Of course, I'm shocked, concerned. I press one. I'm on hold, the USAA hold music. I get transferred to somebody who said he's a fraud officer. I gave him my pin for my account to verify me. He asked my name--my member number," Amanda recalled.

She was then told they would send her a new bank card, but first needed to change the pin to her account.

"He sends me a one-time code to verify my identity," Amanda said. But that text message from USAA came with a warning that made Amanda leery.

"(The text) says you will never call and ask for this code," Amanda told the guy on the phone. "He says, 'But ma'am, I didn't call you and ask for the code, I'm on the phone with you.'"

Convinced, she gave him the code and went about her life. Then, not long after, she gets a notification from her bank saying that $20,000 had been wired out of her account.

She calls USAA and learns that man she just talked to is a scammer.

"He's like ma'am that had to be a fraudster, we never spoke to you. We never called you about any of that," Amanda said.

Now, Amanda is out $20,000 and the scammer was not done. He changed her password to her bank and email accounts. He even changed the emergency phone number associated with those accounts.

This is known as the imposter scam, where fraudsters are spoofing legit company phone numbers and pretending to be them to get your money. Scammers don't just pretend to be with one company, this can happen with any bank, credit card, or business. We have previously done reports on scammers pretending to be with utility companies and even DirecTV.

Amanda opened a fraud investigation with USAA and filed a police report.

"I'm like in pieces, I'm in shambles because I have two small kids; Christmas time is coming up."

Fortunately, Amanda reached out to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, who reached out to USAA on Amanda's behalf. USAA put the money back into Amanda's account as a fraud credit.

"We can finally breathe again. Thank you guys so much. I really appreciate your help," Amanda said.

While this case had a happy ending, not all scam victims are this fortunate. USAA provided these five tips to avoid falling victim to scams:

  • USAA (or any bank, credit union) will never call you and then ask you for your one-time verification code, PIN, password, or other personal identification details. If something feels strange, hang up immediately and call the phone number on the back of your credit or debit card.
  • NEVER give your personal information, send cash, gift cards, or money transfers to someone you don't know in real life.
  • Check your social media privacy settings-scammers can get your personal information by what you post.
  • Trust your instincts-if it feels "fishy" it probably is.
  • If you do fall victim to a scam-file a report with law enforcement and don't be embarrassed -- you're not alone.
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