Scammers wire themselves $48,000 from Simi Valley business owner
VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - Scammers somehow managed to wire themselves a little over $48,000. Now, a Simi Valley business owner in the middle of an expensive and elaborate scam is sharing his side of the story.
According to the FBI, about $2 billion is lost every year to wire transfer fraud. When it involves a small business, it can leave a devastating impact.
The phone wouldn't stop ringing for Steve Skaggs, the owner of Skiff's Cakes in Simi Valley.
"I thought perhaps it was more important than anything that I could just dismiss at that time," Skaggs said. "It was a woman. Her name was Barbara from Chase Bank, and she was calling to alert me that there was a fraudulent charge on my business debit card."
"Barbara" instructed Steve to download a Chase app to review the charges. Skeptical, Steve drove to a Chase Bank branch while on the call and informed the manager about the situation.
The manager recognized it as a scam, advised Steve to turn off his phone and computer, and froze his account.
However, despite the bank's efforts to stop the first wire attempt, the scammers succeeded in transferring $48,222.00 in a second attempt.
Steve says Chase Bank blamed him for the wire transfer and, after a three-month investigation, told him the money would not be reimbursed.
Frustrated, Steve sought help from FOX 11.
Reporter Gina Silva contacted Chase on his behalf. Two weeks later, a Chase Bank employee assured Steve the funds would be returned to his account by the following day.
True to their word, $48,222.00 was restored.
Chase issued the following statement:
"These types of scams are heartbreaking. We urge all consumers to ignore phone, texts or internet requests for money or access to their computer or bank accounts. Legitimate companies won't make these requests, but scammers will."
Chase Bank also shared the following tips:
- Protect your personal account information, ATM pins, passwords and one-time passcodes. If someone contacts you and asks for this information, especially if it's someone claiming to be from your bank, do not share it with them.
- If you want to be sure you're talking to a legitimate representative of the company that contacted you, call the number on their official website.
- If you want to be sure you are talking to a legitimate representative of your bank, call the number at the back of your card or visit a branch
- Never click on suspicious links in a text or email or grant anyone remote access to your phone or computer.
- Do not respond to phone, text or internet requests for money or access to your computer or bank accounts. Banks will never call, text or email asking for you to send money to yourself or anyone else to prevent fraud.
- To learn more about common scams and ways to protect yourself, visit: www.chase.com/security-tips
Steve expressed relief knowing people were willing to help.
"I do want to say to FOX 11 News, thank you so much; I don't know if the outcome would have been the same were it not for your intervention," he said.