LOS ANGELES - It took hard work and years of saving a little at a time for Kyla Cook to stash away $8,000 in her bank account. But in a matter of seconds, scammers were able to empty her savings, leaving her with nothing.
"I felt violated because this is my account, this is my money, and I was swindled out of it," said Cook.
It all started with an email that appeared to be from Amazon, notifying Kyla that she would be charged $1,064 for an iPhone. Since Cook had not ordered a phone, she immediately called the number on the email and a man who claimed to be an Amazon Banking Officer named Peter was on the line.
"So, once I clicked the email, I'm guessing my computer started share-screening with this Peter guy who presented himself as the Amazon banker, and at the time, I was panicking," Cook said. "So I signed in to my online banking to see if the money had already been withdrawn, as it claimed that it would charge to my account."
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There was no charge for the iPhone because the email was fake. Amazon never sent it. Suddenly, there were multiple withdrawals from two of Cook’s savings accounts, one from Wells Fargo and another from Chase.
"They started to Zelle it out to random people. I don't know these people. I've never dealt with these people," Cook said.
The con artists used Zelle to send themselves payments in $1000 dollar increments, totaling $8000. "These scammers are geniuses, like very, very smart people and how they manipulate and how they present themselves to be a real official person, it's incredible," Cook said. She is just one of the thousands of people who’ve fallen victim to payment app scams.
We contacted Zelle for comment and a statement was issued that says in part:
"Scammers have been around for years and are always alert to prey on the public. It’s a societal issue that impacts all industries-financial services, consumer marketplaces, healthcare, automotive, etc. That’s why our financial institution partners and Zelle continue to prioritize financial education."
"I’m just on edge, and I'm paranoid," Cook said. "I'm constantly nervous, and it's an uneasy feeling to feel like that." Cook contacted Wells Fargo and Chase to let them know she had been scammed. Wellsfargo is reimbursing the amount that was stolen from her savings account. Chase officials say they are still investigating.
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