Wells Fargo bankers tell East Bay customer they're too busy to stop wire scam

ByRenee Koury KGO logo
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
Wells Fargo bankers tell customer they're too busy to stop wire scam
The victim was still on the phone with the scammer at Wells Fargo, trying to stop the wire transfer -- and the teller said they were too busy to help.

SAN RAMON, Calif. (KGO) -- The federal government is warning about imposter scams taking billions of dollars from consumers. Those scammers pose as your banker, retailer, utility company -- anyone you trust -- in order to get at your money.

It just happened to an East Bay school teacher as the school year was winding down. A Wells Fargo imposter swindled her out of $20,000 -- a huge loss -- and worse, she says her real bank didn't try to stop it.

Ann Booras still feels the sting of the scam. "Complete and utter panic," she said. "I had tears running down my face, I was literally shaking."

It happened as Ann's students were finishing final exams. Her cell phone rang -- the caller ID said Wells Fargo Bank.

"The person on the other end said, 'I'm calling from Wells Fargo, we're investigating some fraud that's going on - are you trying to wire $20,000 from your savings account?'" Booras said.

"I said, 'No I am not.' And he said, 'Well then this is definitely fraud, let's get moving,'" she said.

A man on the phone told her she'd better wire the $20,000 over to the bank's fraud department where it would be safe.

VIDEO: 7 On Your Side catches scammer in the act after he drains woman's bank account

Trying to return a product to Etsy before going to the hospital for surgery, the Oakley woman fell prey to a phony customer service phone number.

"So I said, 'OK walk me through this,' so he kept walking me through all the steps. And when that was done he said, 'You know there's another wire fraud transfer in the form of $5,000,'" Booras said.

So she followed instructions and wired another $5,000.

"At this point I see the money leave my account, and he said, 'No, no, it's OK, it's in our, it's in our fraud department now, that's where it's protected,'" she said.

Then, the man said someone was trying to get another $3,500 through her Zelle account. Booras believed him.

"I just panicked that someone somewhere in the world had access to all of my money," she said.

Booras drove to the nearest Wells Fargo branch, with the man still on the phone, and told a teller someone was attacking her accounts.

Silently, the teller warned her - the thief was actually the man on the phone.

MORE: Fraudsters use job hunters' own resumes against them in new employment scam

"I had tears running down my face, I was literally shaking because I realized I had just sent $25,000 to who knows where," Booras said.

She pleaded with bank employees to stop those wire transfers -- fast. But to her shock, no one would help.

"'I'm sorry we're all busy. We're backed up with appointments back to back. You need to go to another branch, but we can't help you here,'" Booras said she was told.

"And so I was kind of, I was dumbfounded, like how can you not help me! A whole 'nother level of rage," she said.

"You have a woman who's in the process of being defrauded, with tears coming out of her eyes and you sent her away," said her husband, Ted Booras.

Booras raced across town to another branch.

"It took me a lot of time to get through traffic and the road work they're doing on Crow Canyon road," she said.

MORE: Couple tricked into wiring nearly $70K from Wells Fargo account to scammer

A banker at the other branch saw her in tears, responded quickly, and managed to stop the $5,000 dollar wire transfer. But the $20,000? Too late. It was gone.

Wells Fargo denied Booras's claim for reimbursement and called her to say she authorized the transaction.

"He was like, 'No, sorry, Wells Fargo would never call you.' And I said, 'You just called me!'" she said.

7 On Your Side asked Wells Fargo why bankers said they were too busy instead of trying to stop the fraud. The bank did not respond, exactly, but said:

"We strive to do all that we can to support scam victims. When a customer reports they've fallen victim, we take these situations seriously and provide customers options, including our fraud claim team contact information. We remain focused on raising awareness of scams and how wire transfers are an immediate form of payment that are typically irreversible, even if a customer quickly reports a wire they sent to a scammer. This includes sending a warning message to customers before they send an online wire."

Tips for ABC7 Viewers

- Many scams start with a simple call, email, or message impersonating a person or company you know to trick you into giving them your money, account information or verification codes.

- Know that your bank will never ask you to send money to anyone, including yourself, to "reverse a transfer," "receive a refund," or "secure your funds from fraud."

- Don't be afraid to end communication with the person who contacted you and take time to research."

"You send her away. That's what disappointed me the most," Ted Booras said.

These scams use a lot of the same tricks, like fake caller ID. remember the caller ID you see on your phone could easily be fake. Never rely on it to verify who's really calling you. Also your bank will never ask you to wire money for any reason at all. If you hear that, it's an alarm bell. It's a scam. Hang up.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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