Amid the rise in popularity of quick-pay apps, scammers are also increasingly using digital payment platforms like Zelle to drain victims’ bank accounts.
In this latest scam, fraudsters are now posing as employees of banks that have embraced Zelle as a transaction method. Among them are majors banks Wells Fargo, Chase and Bank of America. Scammers are taking advantage of the platform’s instantaneous, irreversible transactions — and the federal government’s ambiguous regulations — to get more creative in their ploys.
The scammers are using text, followed by a “spoof” telephone call to win the victims confidence A spoof phone call is one where the caller falsifies the information transmitted to the recipients caller ID display to make the call appear to be coming from their bank.
Here’s the latest version of the scam. The victim receives a text asking if they have approved a Zelle transaction to “MADE UP NAME” for “MADE UP AMOUNT” usually fairly large. So far, there’s nothing unusual since banks are now prone to sending out text questioning some purchases.
In this case, immediately following responding “no,” the recepient receives a telephone call that appears to be coming from their bank. Remember, this a trick, the number has been “spoofed” to appear to be coming from the recipient’s bank.
Here’s how the scam proceeds according to one person who was scammed. She said the woman on the telephone told her someone was withdrawing money in her name, and she needed to quickly send funds back into her account through Zelle to stop it.
The scammer then instructed the recipient to begin the transfer by typing her first and last name in the “Add Recipient” field and leaving the field for her email or phone number blank.
Once the transfer was processed, the recipient received a notification from Zelle that “her name” was now a recipient. She also received text notifications that looked legitimate.
“HER NAME” sent you $1,000.00 with Zelle. To accept your money, visit: https://enroll.zellepay.com. Reply STOP to end msgs or HELP for help,” the text read.
The imposters, however, created a Zelle account in her name and used it to receive those funds.
When the recipient checked her Wells Fargo account, the money was gone.
“The money is gone. Gone. It just disappeared,” she said.
“It’s just scary. It’s a scary feeling,” she added.
What those scammed are finding out is that their banks while making Zelle available do not accept any liability for fraud. Because the transactions are considered instantaneous The Zelle User Service Agreement basically relieves Zelle and the bank of any liability from the payment. In other words, they don’t have the responsibility to reverse payments in a fraud situation, but it doesn’t say they can’t.
So beware, and don’t expect to get your money back on any Zelle transaction, so be careful of fraud.