Fraud flourishes on cell. The banks say it’s not their problem.


Another Wells Fargo customer, Julia Gibson, lost $2,500 in a similar scam in October. After reporting the fraud to the bank, they gave her a temporary credit for the lost cash. But in January, the bank abruptly canceled the loan, sending her balance to zero and incurring overdraft fees. The bank had decided that the loss was not fraudulent.

“What was so frustrating about this whole thing is that the customer service representative I spoke to told me that so many people had experienced this,” Ms. Gibson said.

In their appeals to Wells Fargo, Mr. Faunce and Ms. Gibson cited the Consumer Protection Agency’s rules on fraudulent losses, but the bank repeatedly rejected them.

“There are certain indicators that we are looking for in the investigation to let us know that fraud has indeed taken place on the account,” Wells Fargo wrote to Mr. Faunce on February 23. “During the investigation we could not find any of these indicators were present and the claim was denied.”

After the Times contacted the bank, they refunded Ms. Gibson.

“We are committed to complying with all transaction regulations,” said bank spokesman Jim Seitz. “We are actively working to raise awareness of common scams to prevent these heartbreaking incidents.” He declined to discuss specific customer cases.

Other fraud victims trying to get their money back from banks have had better luck invoking the law.

Ken Page-Romer, a psychotherapist and author living in Long Beach, NY, had $19,500 drained from his account in November after receiving fake SMS alerts and calls that appeared to be from Citigroup phone numbers. The bank initially denied his claims. At the urging of his husband, Gregory, a financial adviser, Mr. Page-Romer wrote the bank a letter citing Regulation E and sent copies to the police and bank regulators. Citi soon returned his stolen money.


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