Bank scam that began with a text message ends with woman losing life savings:
In a stark reminder of the growing threat of financial scams, small catering business owner Deborah Moss found herself caught up in a sophisticated bank scam that began with a seemingly innocuous text message.
Moss, who had devoted more than a decade to building his business, eventually amassed enough savings to lead a peaceful life in rural California. But her dreams were shattered when she received a text message from her bank, Chase, inquiring about an unauthorized $35 debit card charge from another state. Initially dismissing it as a minor inconvenience, Moss responded quickly.
Shortly after receiving the text, Moss received a call from someone claiming to be a Chase Bank representative, with the caller ID revealing the bank’s name. On the other end of the line was an individual from a Chase ATM identifying herself as “Miss Barbara.” They requested permission from Moss to issue a new debit card to resolve the alleged fraud.
Little did Moss know that the seemingly helpful caller would demand further action before issuing a new card. Miss Barbara instructed Moss to read the numbers in the subsequent text message over the phone for identity verification purposes.
“And I’ll just repeat those numbers to her, and she’ll say, ‘That’s great. Thank you so much, Ms. Moss,'” Moss said.
Over the next week, Miss Barbara called Moss several times, each time saying there was a problem with the delivery of the card and each time asking Moss to verify her identity by reading the numbers in the text messages.
It wasn’t until Moss visited his nearest bank branch that the devastating truth came out. A supervisor informed her that her account was heavily overdrawn, completely wiping out nearly $160,000 in her life savings.
Overwhelmed with shock and despair, Moss discovered that he now owed Chase Bank $895, as the fraudsters had completely drained his funds.
“It was all my money. It took me 12 years to get that money, and it was my life savings,” Moss said.
The Moss trial highlighted the growing trend of fraud and the alarming financial losses to Americans, with losses reported to have reached $8.8 billion last year, up from the previous year, according to government data. I have 30 percent more.
Moss has received authenticated text messages from Chase Bank as part of their two-factor authentication system to enhance customer security. But the fraudsters tricked Moss into revealing the numbers, enabling them to bypass security measures and transfer large sums of money from Moss’s account. In just one week, they made six wire transfers, some amounting to nearly $48,000.
Moss filed a police report and submitted a claim to Chase Bank in hopes of recovering his stolen funds. However, his hopes were dashed when, after five weeks of waiting, his claim was denied.
Chase Bank accused Moss of failing to take adequate precautions to protect her account from unauthorized access. Consequently, they refused to pay his account, leaving Moss devastated and defrauded.
“My world fell apart. My whole world fell apart,” Moss said. “You think of your bank as a place where you put your money so it’s safe but it’s not safe. That needs to change.”
JPMorgan Chase provided a statement to CBS News in response, saying, “Unfortunately, Ms. Moss’ account was compromised as a result of fraudsters and access to her personal confidential information.”
According to Chase Bank, bank officials at that time attempted to contact Moss by phone and email regarding the wire transfer. Moss claims he never received any of these messages. Chase offers the following tips to remember: Don’t share personal account information such as ATM PINs or passcodes. Keep in mind that the bank doesn’t usually initiate phone calls, but if you want to make sure you’re talking to the bank, call the number on the back of your card. Finally, avoid clicking on suspicious links in texts or emails.
JPMorgan Chase defended its commitment to combating fraud in a statement, saying: “Each year we invest hundreds of millions of dollars in verification, risk models, technology and associate, client education to prevent fraud. Make it difficult for those to cheat customers.”
David Weber, a certified fraud examiner and forensic accounting professor, believes Chase Bank bears responsibility for failing Moss and for failing to implement strong security measures.
“Any way you look at it, they failed,” Weber said. “The bank could have asked him to come in person and sign the wire form. They gave up everything to put him in danger, and now they’re saying they have no responsibility.”
He also said that existing two-factor authentication systems, including text messages, are insufficient to combat the increasingly sophisticated tactics used by scammers.
“This is happening hundreds and thousands of times a day in America using the exact same methods here. Two-factor authentication is not strong enough to protect this consumer,” Weber said.