An Indiana woman is issuing a warning after she was targeted by online scammers days after losing her husband.
Selena Bell was grieving the loss of her husband Tyrone, who served three tours in Iraq and was awarded the Purple Heart, when she received a fraud alert via text message, reports CBS 2 in Chicago.
The widow says the message appeared to be from her bank, USAA, and she was instructed to call a number.
After hearing the familiar USAA theme song, Bell spoke to a scammer who claimed to be an employee at the bank and convinced her to hand over sensitive banking information.
The bad actor then deposited a fraudulent check worth $4,500 into Bell’s account, addressed to a “John Doe,” – a check that USAA cleared.
Ultimately, the scammer began sending money out of Bell’s account to unknown people. Bell realized something was wrong when she discovered the next day that her balance was in the negative by $5,034.
Bell says she suspects the scammers personally targeted her knowing that she was going through a difficult time.
“I seriously really believe that these scammers go through obituaries and stuff so they can take advantage of people.”
When the widow filed a police report, USAA, which had $110.88 billion in assets as of the end of 2022, told her that ”we have determined that the transaction is not fraudulent.”
However, after the story was covered by CBS 2 in Chicago, USAA reportedly got back to the widow and restored her account in full, saying that she wasn’t at fault for the incident.
The bank says it has ”sophisticated fraud monitoring detection processes,” but has not addressed how it allowed a “John Doe” check to be deposited into her account.
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