*Disclosures: This article is an account of something that happened to me. It contains events as they happened to me. Others may have experienced something different. I am not being paid by anyone to write this article. I simply wanted to tell my story to let others be aware of what is happening. In my research, I learned of other similar incidents and noted some of them in this article.
On September 5th, 2021, I received an email from Chase informing me that someone by the name of Dejon James was added as a recipient on Zelle. I checked my account and within a matter of minutes of having received this email, an unidentified entity had already transferred $4725 from my business account to an account at Bank of America. I immediately put a claim in to Chase, who after “investigating” informed me that the money could not be returned, claiming that the money was transferred from the same device I normally use (please refer to the letter in the pictures below for details). I wondered, ‘how can that be?’ …I didn’t send this money or authorize the money to be sent!
Chase provided me with very little information and throughout my dealings with them actually made me feel like the criminal. I had been a Chase banking customer for about 20 years. Being that I held several credit cards, a savings account, a checking account and a business checking account with them, you would think they would be a little more understanding. Yet that was not the case at all. Some representatives literally yawned in my ear as if l were boring them. Another, kept me on hold about 20 minutes. He would come back and check in and then put me on hold again. When he returned, he told me to contact Zelle. I doubt he was even looking into anything. He started give me an IP number and he gave me two digits and then hung up (I say he hung up because those two digits were different than the ones given to me by another representative so I don’t think he actually had the IP address).
Very infuriating to say the least. Perhaps, they heard so many Zelle fraud claims that mine was just another claim that they knew would go nowhere and I was just wasting their time. Maybe we live in a world that has gotten so heartless and indifferent that no one cares about the suffering of others. …this topic can really be a whole different post…. Anyway….
In all the dealings with Chase, I was advised to contact the police and try to get the money back myself (how ridiculous is that! should I ask for his address and go knock on his door?). I was also advised to contact cyber fraud or Zelle because it was their responsibility. Of course, it was everyone else’s responsibility aside from Chase. I actually learned that Chase is one of the banks who actually own Zelle.
According to Wikipedia, Zelle is a United States–based digital payments network owned by Early Warning Services, LLC, a private financial services company owned by the banks: Bank of America, Truist, Capital One, JP Morgan Chase, PNC Bank, US Bank and Wells Fargo. In one of my conversations with a Chase representative, they even denied that Chase owned Zelle.
I escalated the matter twice through Chase’s own executive branch. I wrote to the Department of Fraud, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (see the letter below) and the Attorney General, none of whom provided any assistance to me.
Eventually, a lady (I won’t leave her name) who works in Chase Executive services department, gave me the IP address used, which does not match either my cell phone or computer! Yet, no one at Chase was even listening to the facts.
This representative had the money returned to me, after having posted a complaint on Twitter. At that time, I closed my savings accounts to keep this from happening to me again. Within two weeks of receiving the refund, a letter arrived from Chase asking for the money to be returned! According to them, the money should never have been refunded. I received a letter from the Office of the Comptroller which was basically the same letter as the one from Chase, only with a different letterhead. I thought the role of the Comptroller was to monitor banks to ensure that they are “doing the right” thing” ….that they has the ability to protect the consumer. I learned the hard way that they do not and that consumers have no where to turn when something like this happens. The laws and guidelines on Zelle seem to fall in a gray area. Is Chase in the “wrong?” Maybe not according to laws but this does not let them off the hook.
In my research, I discovered that this type of fraud has been going on for years. I found similar stories online that go back to 2017. In all these years, I am sure that this has happened to tens of thousands of people if not more. Yet, there have been no measures put in place to prevent this. The only conclusion that I can make of this is that banks do not really care about their consumers and only want to protect their assets. Since they are not the ones “left holding the bag,” it appears that they are not doing anything to protect our money. In my opinion, simply adding a two step authorization for money transfers could prevent most of these situations from happening. At least, it would be a step in the right direction. Yet, years of this type of fraud and nada/nothing!
Is the EFTA (Electronic Funds Transfer Act) to protect electronic fund transfers? Then Zelle being an electronic transfer of funds, should fall under this law. Does Zelle fall in some gray area that this law does not cover? The following images were taken from Zelle’s website. According to this, Zelle crimes do fall under the EFTA.
You might end up learning the hard way that your money is not safe. Even if you do not actually have Zelle, if your bank (ie. Chase, Bank of America, TD Bank, etc.) partners with them, a hacker can sign you up for Zelle and transfer money from your account without you even knowing. When I went to sign up for an account at TD Bank, they told me it was not possible, but I have read articles of this actually happening to people. Unfortunately, banks are putting themselves in situations that they cannot be trusted and we as consumers have to unite and protect ourselves.
I recommend researching banks and sign up with ones that do not partner with Zelle. If you do bank with Zelle partner check into the Zelle transfer limit (as you could be at a loss for that amount of money in case of fraud). For Chase business accounts the amount is $5000, at the time this article was written.
Click here to find a list of banks that partner with Zelle.
Read this article for other similar incidents and how to file a Zelle complaint that will aide in creating tighter laws.
I am not a reporter, but wanted to share my story in that hopes that it will prevent this crime from happening to others. Please share your story with me in the comments.