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Let’s cut to the 'Chase' – bank impersonation scammers are on the loose

Experts highlight two other finance scams starting to show up

Photo (c) B4LLS - Getty Images
A week doesn’t go by that a scammer tries to trick someone out of their hard-earned money or their highly valuable personal identifying information. And that trend is led by scammers relying heavily on impersonation scams. Here’s proof…

A ring of impersonation scammers hit Columbus Ohio, recently, all dolled up like JPMorgan Chase employees. And all they had to do to swindle someone was send a text message that led to a phone call. Before the victim knew it, $8,500 had vanished out of his bank account.

“They asked him if he had authorized a wire transfer and he replied, 'no',”  Jeff Phipps, the victim’s dad, told WBNS-TV. “They kept him on the phone for an hour and 47 minutes. They said, ‘Well, we want to deactivate your account. Can you send us your username and your passcode?’ And he did, thinking it was Chase.”

Bad move.

Phipps said his son was sure he was talking to someone in the fraud department at Chase, but it was simply a well-oiled scam machine doing a great job of convincing him that they were protecting his account.

Chase says 'sorry, but…'

Phipps said his family asked Chase to execute a recall of the funds, but they were too late in asking – a week too late.

When WBNS-TV asked Chase why Phipps’ wire fraud case wasn’t given more consideration, the bank agreed that scams are a societal problem, but that was it.

“Their consumer protection division concluded too much personal information, including usernames, passwords and a one-time passcode, was surrendered and it did not qualify for a reimbursement,” the station said.

But the Phipps’ case did get enough of the bank’s attention that it came to the rescue when the family was targeted a second time.

“The next day, my wife and he went to the bank, closed the accounts, and opened up new accounts with new passwords and user IDs,” the elder Phipps explained. “Then the next day, the same guy tried to do another wire transfer on the new accounts and their fraud department caught that one and refused it and rejected it.”

Financial institution scams climbing the charts

When we reviewed our recent story about impersonation scams, we found five finance-oriented companies in Cloudflare’s Top 50 most impersonated brands. Chase was in there, too. So were PayPal, Wells Fargo, American Express, and Bank of America.

Why do scammers love banks? Simple – between those five financial brands, there are more than 700 million sitting ducks, er, customers whose accounts can be plundered. Even if the scam world’s success ratio was only one-half of one percent, that’s 3.5 million people that could be exploited.

And while Phipps was conned into believing that he was talking with Chase’s fraud prevention team, there are other scams that are currently hot and heavy across the U.S., according to an analysis of six scams that target consumers' bank accounts by U.S. News. The two newest ones to ConsumerAffairs are a “check overpayment scam" and an “online lending scam.”

Check Overpayment Scams are where sellers from online auctions like eBay or classified ad sites like Craigslist are targeted. The scam goes down like this: as part of the transaction, the scammer will pay the seller with a fake check for more than the amount of the item. Then, “Oh, I’m sorry, I overpaid you. Can you wire me the difference back?” And once that happens, the seller has not only lost a sale but the supposed “overpaid” amount. 

Online Lending Scams. If you’re someone who’s had a tough time getting a traditional bank loan, heads up. Any email from someone or a website claiming to be a lender could be a scammer trying to do one of two things. 

One, they’ll do their best to get you to fork over personal information that they can use in all sorts of ways. Just like a real bank that’s taking a loan application, they'll ask for account numbers, Social Security numbers, birthdate, and your bank account routing number and account number. If you give them that, you’re probably toast. 

The other possibility is that these lending scammers have also been known to ask victims for a “good faith payment,” which of course, goes straight from your bank account to theirs, and poof, you can kiss that money goodbye.

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