What happened?

Since the article is behind a paywall, can you give us a hint as to what you are bringing to our attention?

I’d like to know what happened. Hopefully someone here knows.

When it comes to scams, there are some common red flags for which consumers should be on the lookout.

Misspellings in texts and emails. A beeping sound from an incoming phone call, or a pause before the caller starts talking. Instructions to buy gift cards to pay for services.

Todd Kirby, 54, knows all the red flags, but he was still scammed out of $24,000 in a fraud that’s much more sophisticated than the typical banking scam.

He received a text on June 6, supposedly from JPMorganChase, which is where he’s been a customer for 25 years. It asked if he authorized a $4,000 transfer to a TD Bankaccount.

“I looked immediately to see if everything was spelled correctly and for any red flags,” the Maplewood man said. “I’ve gotten these texts before, legitimately, and it was exactly the same.”

He replied no, the transaction wasn’t authorized.

Four minutes later, he got a call from 800) 935-9935" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">(800) 935-9935, the same customer service number that appears on the back of his Chase debit card, he said.

If you search for the number online, it comes up as the personal banking customer service number for Chase. Unfortunately, the caller ID number was faked, or spoofed, to look like the real thing.

“In the consumer fraud landscape, all you’re told is don’t pick up any phone numbers you don’t recognize,” Kirby said.

He answered the phone.

The nearly 90-minute phone call covered a lot of ground about the $4,000 transaction Kirby never authorized, Kirby said, and he and the “very professional” but fake representative even talked about scams and how Kirby could tell the call was authentic.

I said can you provide me any information about you, or can you send me an email to validate, and they said no, they can’t — when I called Chase fraud later, I asked them the same questions and they also said no,” Kirby said. “(The fake representative) asked if the phone number (the fake representative) called from matched the one on my card, and it did.”

The fake representative said he would call back with next steps and more information, Kirby said he was told.

In the next few calls over the next two days, the fake representative said Chase would have to close Kirby’s checking and savings accounts and open new ones, and it would send him new debit cards. It would also pursue the con artists, Kirby said he was told, and the representative even gave him the names of the three alleged perpetrators.

Kirby said he was instructed to transfer his savings account balance to his checking account, and then transfer the entire amount to a Chase account set up by the fake representative, who supplied the account number.

Through his online banking portal, Kirby did as he was instructed, and he said he was told the new debit cards would arrive any day.

But they never did. On June 9, he grasped an awful truth.

“I realized it was fraud when my replacement debit cards did not arrive when they said they would,” he said. “Heart sank and is still sunken.”


Kirby said when he realized he’d been had, he immediately called Chase to report the fraud, and he filed a police report..

“The detective told me this is beyond their capabilities and more sophisticated than they are used to seeing,” Kirby said. “That made me feel a little better but not really.”

Then he received his first rejection letter from Chase on June 13, five days after he reported the fraud. Kirby said the rejection didn’t make sense because it came so quickly and the bank didn’t ask if he had any documentation, such as his screenshots of the text and phone logs of the calls.

He went to his branch, provided documentation and filed a second fraud claim.

This, too, was rejected, documents show.

“I called and asked if they got the documentation. They said, ‘What documentation?’” Kirby said. “I tried to open a third fraud complaint and they said there’s nothing I can do. It’s all closed.”

Kirby said he believes Chase should be held responsible for returning his money.

“Let’s start with the basic fact that they were impersonated to a T, really beyond any of the standard bank fraud that a consumer would see,” Kirby said. “Looking back, I don’t see anything that I should have realized using common sense.”

Kirby argued that while Chase’s consumer fraud warnings offer general advice, they don’t address more sophisticated scams like the one that got him.

“They impersonated Chase’s phone number, their text had the correct spelling, they did everything as Chase customer service would have handled a fraud,” he said. “You’re not going to protect me? Really?”

He asked Bamboozled for help.


Kirby fell for what’s called a victim-assisted crime. Financial institutions say they’re not responsible because even though the consumer was tricked by a scammer, the consumer did indeed make the transaction

The text he received sure looked legit.

We know that scammers can easily make a pretty good text impersonation, which usually gives the victim a link to click on, and the scam begins.

And sure, we’ve all received spoofed callswhere caller ID wrongly says it’s the IRS or some other agency. But how often do the phone numbers match the actual real number used by the agency?

Often enough, but it takes so-called impersonation scams a step further with a more sophisticated trick. Anyone could fall for it.

After reviewing Kirby’s documentation, fraud rejection letters, screenshots and call logs, and we asked Chase to review the case.

“We made reasonable efforts to recover the money and unfortunately were not successful,” a Chase spokeswoman said, and she referred customers to its website for tips on how to avoid scams.

The website includes what text codes the bank may use if it ever texts a customer. The codes for “Fraud & Account Security” are 28107, 36640 and 72166, it said.

Should a customer know to look for that ahead of time? Kirby doesn’t think so.

And what’s to stop a smart scammer from adding those codes to their impersonation texts? Chase didn’t immediately respond to that question.

The bank would not comment on how it decided to reject of Kirby’s first fraud complaint in only five days, including a weekend. It also wouldn’t comment on why it wasn’t able to freeze the account that received the funds, which was also with Chase.

“These types of scams are heartbreaking,” the spokeswoman said. “We urge all consumers to ignore phone, text or internet requests for money or access to their computer or bank accounts. Legitimate companies won’t make these requests, but scammers will.”

The bank wouldn’t comment further on Kirby’s fraud complaint.

Kirby said he plans to continue to fight to try to get back his $24,000, which he said isn’t “chump change.”

“If it weren’t for Chase’s lack of proper education (for consumers about) more sophisticated scammers who literally mimic their own exact phone number, their own easily replicable process in addressing fraudulent transactions, and their incredibly inconsistent customer service response, I would still have this money,” he said.

Chase did not respond to Kirby’s criticism of how it protects or educates consumers.

“I’m so angry right now,” Kirby said.

I guess the answer is, when you receive a call from "the bank," go to the branch office before you follow any telephone instructions.

Enter all phone numbers manually.

Didn’t he notice that the original $4000 mentioned stayed in his real account? Days went by. 

If a bank calls you, tell them you will call back and hang up.  Then call back on a legitimate number and see if the issue is real.

dickf3 said:

Thanks Jaytee.

You’re welcome, I have a chase account also and I checked the phone number on the back of my card. I don’t have a 800 number it’s 877, but the last four digits matches the number that called Kirby. 
First of all, if you get any strange messages concerning your account, call the bank, or better yet, go in personally and inquire. NEVER allow anyone to make you change accounts or close accounts or do anything regarding your money over the phone. 
From the moment he got that text he should have called chase, not wait for them to call him. It’s very sad that he lost so much money, but I honestly don’t see what the bank can do now, he assisted with the con.

I don’t even trust the people working in the banks, how did the crooks know he had that much money to begin with? It’s not random, and I would switch banks immediately if I was him.

Announce that you are taking this problem to the bank's branch office. They will probably immediately disconnect. 

That’s a very good point, Heynj. But once he believed the fraudster, it is understandable that he may not have noticed.  It may be part of the psychology of fraud.

What I didn’t understand from the article Jaytee provided is why the police (presumably Maplewood PD) could not work with Chase to identify the owner of the account to which the funds were fraudulently moved.
It sounds like the victim had good documentation that it was fraud. 

The article said that fraudster’s account was a Chase account.  I thought banks require proof of identity to open an account. 

If the bank knows the true identity of the person whose account received the funds, why couldn’t the police pursue this?  And if the owner of this account used phony ID to successfully deceive the bank about his true identity (thus making it more difficult to recover the funds), shouldn’t this increase the bank’s duty owed to the victim? 

I think the police don’t investigate identity theft or bank fraud, instead they refer it to the state and federal authorities. I think Kirby said he reported it to the police, he should also report it to the federal trade commission. This is going to be an interesting case to follow. I don’t know if he follows MOL, or any social networks in town, but it would help if he does and reports on the situation as it progresses. I wish him well, it’s a lot of money.

Heynj said:

Didn’t he notice that the original $4000 mentioned stayed in his real account? Days went by. 

Just thought of this:  maybe the the fraudster told the victim “we caught it in time so you didn’t lose the $4000, but since you account has been compromised it’s best to make these changes”

I had the same kind of call from PSEG a few weeks ago when I was not home. It came through as their number. I knew it was a scam but the call was weird enough that I called them back once I got home. How did I know? I autopay the bill every month and the bill is not in my name (my husband's). I called PSEG and they were disinterested at best. Apparently, they've gotten a lot of these calls. Just like, "yeah, we know." Kinda pissed me off. 

BUT, it's so easy to be scammed. Just believe that every call is suspicious. Answer at risk and hang up and call the main number--which will go through to the correct company--and verify. If you know you don't owe anything, never, never give information away. 

I will certainly not judge this man. I have heard way to many stories about this kind of thing. Young or old (they prey on old though), it's so worrisome when you get that call...

In the next few calls over the next two days, the fake representative said Chase would have to close Kirby’s checking and savings accounts and open new ones, and it would send him new debit cards. It would also pursue the con artists, Kirby said he was told, and the representative even gave him the names of the three alleged perpetrators.

There were several red flags but this was the biggest one, in my opinion. Why would the bank ever tell you the names of the alleged perpetrators? 

I was taken in by a scam a few months ago. In the end it cost me nothing, but I was very shaken by it. The caller said he was with AARP and I had signed up for a subscription and the $29.99 was past due. I argued and said I'm not a member nor I would I ever sign up for such a subscription. Finally, after 20 mins of back and forth, just to get the guy off the phone I gave him my debit card number, figuring it was worth $29.99 to be rid of the guy. I even asked for a customer service no. to call to confirm the transaction which he happily gave me. After I gave him the debit card, I called it and it was a bogus number.

At that point I knew I was scammed. I called my bank, and they had some good advice: 

Know how to identify scams on the phone, as some have mentioned above, and ask for a paper invoice in the mail when asked to pay a debt or invoice. You can always say: "I need a paper invoice for my tax records."  They will never send an invoice.

With the new debit card in hand, I had to update what I thought were 4 or 5 vendors who auto debited my account each month. It turns out I have 25 or so of these accounts (Spotify, Venmo, NY Times, Lyft, Uber, various magazines, EZ Pass, PayPal, Apple, my gym, storage company, Zoom, Rx home delivery plan, health insurance, life insurance, etc.). I had to notify every one of them and make the change. 

That was a true pain in the ****. I wasn't aware of some of these until the auto debits began to fail and I was notified of some potential negative effect on my account because I had failed to pay.  Now I keep a list of every such vendor, account number and phone number so I can handle it more efficiently, uh, next time. 

Two-step process here, and i hope it continues to work:

1. I don't pick up the phone or reply to a text unless i know who's calling (or think i know).

2. If the call/text is about money, a bill, a charge on an account, i hang up/don't reply, and call a number from the back of the card, the statement, wherever.  Credit union and charge card numbers are contacts in the cell phone because this happens every once in a while (most recently a text from "Chase" saying our credit card had been restricted.  Called Chase, and they said it wasn't from them, seemed pretty relaxed, asked for a screen shot i couldn't provide (flip phone)).

Very grateful for "possible scam" caller i.d.'s on both house phone and cell! but they can't catch everything.

The cost of convenience, i guess.

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