Woman falls victim to scammer posing as Wells Fargo employee

Posted at 8:29 PM, Jul 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-17 22:29:52-04

A Colorado Springs woman says she feels "foolish" after getting scammed by a caller purporting to be a Wells Fargo customer service representative.  The mistake cost her $500.

Kathy Moore says the call came to her landline phone just before 7:00 p.m. Saturday.  The caller ID showed the call was coming from "WELLS FARGO BANK" and the phone number was accurately depicted as the Wells Fargo customer service line, 1-800-869-3557.  "She says, ‘The reason I’m calling is that we noticed — this is the fraud department at Wells Fargo — and we noticed that there were three transactions trying to be made going from your debit card to another person’s debit card,’" Moore said.  Moore asked which card, and the caller described her card accurately with the correct last four digits.

In order to correct the problem, the caller told Moore that she would need to verify certain account details, including her online banking user name.  "She asked what my user ID was, which I gave it to her, but she goes, ‘Don’t give me your password,’" Moore said.  The caller sounded very legitimate, Moore said, even reassuring.  "I really did think she was Wells Fargo," Moore said.  "She uses the right terminology, she was trying to give me tips to make sure my card wasn’t used fraudulently again."

Moore said she began to suspect something wasn’t right when she was online during the phone call and was unable to change her banking password.  "She had already changed it," Moore said.  "And then I got a new password and got in and then she said, ‘Are you online right now?’  And I said, ‘Yes.’  Well, she says, ‘You have to log off because we can’t do anything while you’re logged in.’  So I logged off."

Moore says the fraudster established a Zelle money-transfer service account to her bank account and sent two legitimate-looking activity confirmation codes to her cell phone, the second of which apparently authorized a $500 transfer to "O.Banking."  "And then I read it and go, ‘Wait a minute, that’s saying I’m authorizing sending it to somebody else.’  And then they hung up on me," Moore said.  "I had to get a new debit card, I had to get a new checking account, and all of our direct deposits are tied to the old one.  It’s just going to be a real headache."

Colorado Springs police say scammers are almost always a step ahead, getting more sophisticated in their tactics all the time, including manipulating caller ID displays.  "If you have someone calling you, asking for your credit information, account numbers, passwords, never give that up," said CSPD spokesperson Lt. Howard Black.  Black says the best idea is to hang up on the caller, then call the organization that purportedly called you and ask if the call you received was legitimate.  Wells Fargo says anyone who receives a suspicious call from someone claiming to be with Wells Fargo should hang up and immediately call 1-800-869-3557.