ATLANTA — Imagine having your money stolen from your bank account in a clear case of fraud. You just expect the bank will step in and make it right.
But Channel 2 consumer investigators Justin Gray has found that is often not happening.
For Suzanne Lee, it’s become a bit of an obsession. She has become a private eye, forced to investigate the theft herself from her and her husband Justin’s Chase Bank account.
“After arbitration and he lost, I think my husband was done. He was ready to wash his hands, but I couldn’t let it go because it was so unfair,” Lee said.
The Lees told Gray that someone walked into a Chase Bank branch with a fake ID and a Social Security number that didn’t match theirs and sent a wire transfer draining their account of $30,000.
“You had someone go into the bank, pretend to be you, steal all your money, and the bank says, ‘Tough,’” Gray asked Justin Lee.
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“That’s pretty much exactly,” he said.
The Lees have been battling to get their money back from Chase for more than a year, even losing an arbitration case
“This is it’s incredibly infuriating and absurd. You know, on its face,” Justin Lee said.
The Streetmon family is now at nine denials from Wells Fargo in their bank fraud case.
“And when the banks deal with millions upon millions upon millions of dollars every day, $20,000 doesn’t seem like a lot. But it’s devastating to your normal people,” Bobby Streetmon said.
For the Streetmons it started with a fraud alert text.
“I was driving. I got a text from what looked to be a Wells Fargo alert,” Bobby Streetmon said.
“And they made mention that it was from a Walmart charge. We had just been to Walmart,” Sandy Streetmon said.
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But instead of Wells Fargo warning about fraud, it was actually a scammer on the line, who, during a series of calls, cleared out both the Streetmon’s checking and savings account and even pulled cash advances from their credit cards -- a total of $63,000.
“They never notified us. They never verified these wire transfers before they were processed,” Sandy Streetmon said.
The Streetmons got the money from the credit cards and one of the wire transfers back but were still out $20,000.
“It’s been devastating. It is. Where do you, you know, where do you just come up with an extra $20,000?” Sandy Streetmon said.
Both families thought their banks would help.
That’s what FDIC is for, right? But it’s not. FDIC does not insure against loss by fraud or theft.
Federal regulations do require banks to protect customers from wire fraud loss but the consumer’s liability is not to exceed $50 dollars.
But the Lees’ fight with Chase proves it’s not that simple.
“They weren’t helpful at all,” Suzanne Lee said.
That’s why we reached out to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. He chairs the senate banking committee.
“We’ve sent a letter to the banks. We’ve reached out to them, we’ve pushed them. We’re hopeful that they’re going to come to the table and fix this,” Brown said.
He sent this letter to the American Banking Association demanding a briefing on what’s being done to protect consumers against fast-rising bank fraud.
Brown’s office tells us ABA briefed senate staff on a plan to shorten fraud claim times.
“Implicit in that relationship is they will make you whole when you are wronged by some outside force,” Brown said.
For the Streetmans, good news finally came. Several weeks after our interview, after Channel 2 Action News started asking questions, Wells Fargo finally restored the rest of the money to their account just last week.
“It’s the difference of, you know, being able to have our bills paid on time, being able to have our savings account back,” Sandy Streetmon said.
The Lees are still fighting their case, appealing their arbitration decision.
Chase sent Channel 2 Action News a statement that said they were in contact with customers and working with them to resolve the situation.
In a statement from Wells Fargo, it said:
“We never want to see anyone become a victim of a scam and are actively working to raise awareness of common scams to help prevent these heartbreaking incidents. It’s important for everyone to be vigilant and aware of common scams to avoid falling victim. Be wary of unexpected calls, texts, social media posts, or emails from scammers impersonating banks, tech support companies and government agencies. Don’t be afraid to end communication with the person who contacted you and take time to research.”
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