The Investigators: Mid-South customers lose $20,000 after ‘imposters’ pose as bank employees

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 10:25 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A WMC Action News 5 investigation uncovered scammers that are posing as employees of high-profile companies and banks to obtain money from Mid-Southerners.

Two women say their bank accounts were drained by imposters who promised they had their best interests at heart.

One of those victims is Alesha Moody, who was waking up and checked her email.

“It was like 6 a.m,” Moody told The Investigators. “I was checking my emails because I’m an email freak, so I check it all the time and I see this email from Chime support.”

Chime is a mobile platform that offers banking services.

The email, supposedly from Chime, said a temporary hold had been placed on her account for security reasons.

Moody did exactly what the email told her to: send a selfie while holding her driver’s license and provide the last four digits of her social security number.

“It made me feel like I had to act quickly because whatever was going on I wanted to fix it,” she said. “It’s my money, it’s my livelihood. Once I sent that information over, it was like the end for me. Honestly, it was the end of Alesha and someone else took over.”

Moody started receiving text messages notifying her the email address and phone number associated with her account had been changed.

More than $1,000 were soon gone from her account.

“I cried for at least a day straight. I cried. I was devastated,” she said.

Nancy Crawford Butcher with the Mid-South Better Business Bureau (BBB) says Moody fell victim to an imposter scam, which is when a scammer poses as a member of a legitimate company or corporation to obtain personal or financial information.

So far this year, the BBB has received 141 imposter scam reports with a total loss of $33,227.

That number is on track to surpass last year’s total when 235 reports were received for a total loss of $39,455.

An unidentified victim told the Mid-South BBB that she was scammed after receiving a call from someone claiming to be with her bank. The person said someone had used her account to make purchases on a pornographic website.

“That was enough to throw her into an emotional state,” said Butcher. “‘Oh my gosh, I don’t want anybody to know. What can I do to prevent them from spending any more money?’”

The woman was told to purchase gift cards at several stores so that more money couldn’t be taken from her account.

“Your bank will never ask you to purchase gift cards to save your money,” Butcher told The Investigators.

The victim purchased the gift cards anyway and repeated the process the next day when the “banker” called back and said her savings were in jeopardy.

“We don’t want to lose our savings and when someone tells you ‘this is the only way to fix this,’ you trust your banker,” said Butcher.

The victim lost $18,000.

Her report was entered into the BBB’s Scam Tracker tool, where consumers can search by region or scam type to find what scammers are trying to pull in their area.

Moody tried to get her money back but has not been successful.

“I do pray that I can get some type of resolve and move forward. It’s draining,” she said.

The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips to avoid falling victim to an imposter scam, including:

  • Be suspicious of anyone asking for money or information out of the blue.
  • Don’t trust your caller ID; it can be faked.
  • Check with the agency who says it’s calling and don’t use the number the person gives; find it on your own.

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