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Local landscaper wants to warn others about costly Zelle scam

Fraudsters posing as U.S. Bank took $1,000 from him in the scam
Local landscaper wants to warn others about costly Zelle scam
Posted at 5:00 AM, Aug 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-02 08:32:50-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plans to issue guidance in coming weeks to urge banks to repay customers who fall victim to alleged money-transfer scams. In the meantime, consumers continue to be tricked into paying scammers on money transfer apps like Zelle. News5 uncovered a recent case in our community.

In this situation, fraudsters managed to use the company name "U.S. Bank" to launch an imposter text message, phone call, and ultimately to pose as employees to convince a bank customer to transfer money stealing $1,000 from one of our hard working neighbors.

“I work hard for my money. I'm a manual laborer. I do landscaping for a living so I earn my money,” said Christopher Brown, who lives and works in Colorado Springs.

It was during one of those hard days that Brown got a random text message saying his U.S. Bank bank account was compromised and someone was stealing his money.

“It was an exhausting day. We were wheeling in rock back and forth and I was tired as it was and I wasn’t really in the clearest thought. So, I was just sitting in the truck like, oh no my account got hacked. They’re taking money out of my account. So, I’m all worried,” said Brown.

After calling his bank directly and confirming there wasn’t a problem, his phone rang again. This time it displayed the phone number of the U.S. Bank Fraud Department.

”They had all my information, they had my name, my address, the last four of my account,” said Brown.

The person on the phone told him he was with U.S. Bank and money was being taken from his account using Zelle. So he needed to open the money transfer app.

“I could hear typing on a computer like they were actually doing it, so I was like, ok, this is real. There is actually something going on here,” said Brown.

Believing he was talking to an actual U.S. Bank expert, Brown was told to move money around and to send money to various account names on Zelle as part of a test to make sure his account was secure.

“I was on the phone with them for about an hour and finally after the end of it all after I sent $1,000, they wanted me to send more,” said Brown. “That’s when I thought, ok, this is starting to feel weird.”

Brown got off the line and called U.S. Bank directly and got the bad news.

“We know that this is a scam, but since you were the one that pressed the button it’s your fault not the bank’s doing, but I’ve never once got an email or a letter. I didn’t even know this existed until it happened to me,” said Brown.

He requested U.S. Bank to investigate what happened, but just like his conversation on the phone, got a letter saying his claim was denied and his funds couldn’t be recovered.

Brown says at this point he just wants to speak up to try to help other people avoid this headache.

“It really does mean a lot, just being able to get the word out there and helping to make this stop or helping other people not fall for this,” said Brown.

To this point U.S. Bank hasn't done anything to help Brown make up for his losses since technically this wasn't the result of a banking mistake.

Scams like this using Zelle and the names of major banks are happening so frequently nationwide there is now a movement by politicians and oversight agencies to change regulations to require banks to do more for customers in these situations.

When something changes we will let you know.

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