Hackers stole $2,000 from local business owner, but the bank refuses refund

Local News

VICTOR, N.Y. (WROC) —We’ve all been victims of online scams at one point or another but the consequences of some are worse than others. Unfortunately, one small business owner from Victor is facing the repercussions of a scam that did not come to a happy ending.

Deb Stirone owns Gourmet Goodies in Victor. After being scammed online through her business’s bank account, she’s out $2,000 that the bank said she won’t be getting back.

“I’ve seen cases where people had applied for personal loans or they were looking for a direct deposit and they gave up that bank account information, that routing number, that checking account number, and then all of sudden their accounts were drained,” Melanie McGovern with the Better Business Bureau.

Deb Stirone fell victim to one of these scams just a few weeks ago. She got a call from who she thought was the new bank she opened an account with.

“I answered it and they said, did you make any transfers to this Terrence Allen, whoever he was through Zelle? And I was like, no, I don’t even have a Zelle account,” Stirone said.

The caller informed Stirone they were going to lock her account and would be sending a code directly to her phone in order to verify her identity.

“And that apparently is where the hacking comes in. Once they get that code and they can link your phone number to it, and they can get into your account,” Stirone said.

McGovern said if you are to receive a call like this, hang up and call your bank immediately. But that’s exactly what Stirone did.

“I called Chase immediately when it happened, and I waited on hold for at least an hour,” Stirone said, “I finally got through to them. But it didn’t matter at that point.”

Exactly $2,000 was taken out of Stirone’s account in two separate transactions. Money, she said she was going to use towards her business.

“I’m a little pawn in their big game. $2,000 to them is nothing but to the regular individual, that’s a lot of money, Stirone said.

Stirone said the money taken out of her account was through Zelle, an app designed for sending and receiving money.

When she contacted Zelle about the incident, they told her fraudulent incidents like this have been happening often and by the time she gathered the paperwork to give to Chase bank for their investigation, the case had already been closed.

“They’re just saying it’s my charge and they don’t want to look into it anymore. However, now with this dispute, you have this website, the Consumer Federal Bureau, that says that you’re entitled to it back. However, where do I go with that? Who do I give it to? Because every time I call Chase, they’re like, your case is closed,” Stirone said.

At this point, Stirone said she doesn’t expect to get the money back but just wants more people to be in the know of scams like this and be sure you understand your bank’s fraud protection guidelines before opening an account.

A spokesperson from JP Morgan Chase said in a statement:

“Unfortunately, scammers target consumers from many banks. We urge all consumers never to share their banking password or to send money to someone who says it will prevent fraud on their account. Bank employees won’t call, text or email consumers asking for this, but crooks will.”

A spokesperson from Zelle said in a statement:

“At Early Warning® (the network operator and owner of Zelle®), a top priority is protecting consumers from abusive scams. We have invested significantly in consumer education, including being aware of Robocalls, which currently impacts several industries, including financial services. Part of our commitment is to inform and remind consumers that their bank or credit union will never call them to ask for sensitive information. They would not ask customers to transfer funds between accounts to prevent fraud.”

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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