Katie Callaway is not your typical victim of a scam. As a tech-savvy millennial, she thought she was well-equipped to spot a fraudulent phone call. But even she was caught off guard when a scammer posing as a Wells Fargo customer service representative initiated a wire transfer of just over $4,200 from her account.
The call seemed legitimate – the caller ID showed Wells Fargo’s actual customer service line, a number that Callaway was familiar with. “I’ve spoken with Wells Fargo in the past where they needed to confirm my identity, so it seemed very standard procedure,” Callaway said.
The man on the other end of the line was convincing and professional, and nothing about the call raised any red flags for Callaway. “I believed that the bank was actually calling me and notifying me of some fraudulent charges on my account,” she said. “All they needed was just for me to verify. One text message they sent to me to confirm the identity on my account.”
Unfortunately, that one text message was all it took to initiate the fraudulent transfer. Callaway responded to the message, not realizing the danger she was in. To make matters worse, she was hit with wire transfer fees, and her bank held her liable for the online wires, citing its policy. Despite her best efforts, Callaway was unable to recover the stolen funds.
Now, she’s warning others about the elaborate and convincing nature of this scam. “It was very, very elaborate,” she said.
Wells Fargo, for its part, is actively working to raise awareness about common scams and prevent others from falling victim. In a statement, the bank urged customers to be vigilant and cautious when dealing with unexpected calls, texts, social media posts, or emails from scammers posing as banks, tech support companies, or government agencies.
The bank also reminded customers not to give their account information or access codes to anyone they don’t know or a company they can’t verify as legitimate. And it warned that if scammers gain access to your accounts and remove funds, you may not be able to get your money back.
“Our work to prevent scams is a priority,” the statement read. “We’re increasing our education efforts through alerts in online banking sessions, customer communications, and our Online Security Center.”