An elaborate new text message scam is circulating that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars—and banks are refusing to reimburse customers who fall for it.
The scheme begins innocently enough: you’ll receive a simple text, something like this:
Additionally, the number that contacts you will be the same as your bank. Warning you about “unusual activity”, you are prompted to follow a link, which ultimately places you in a phone call with a “bank representative” who will ask for your personal bank information.
Claire Pearson was one victim of the scam and had $75,000 stolen—and worst of all, her bank is refusing to reimburse her.
“I received the text, but this wasn’t unusual as I’ve had messages from them before,” said Claire, “It said there had been suspicious activity on my account, asked ‘do you recognize this transaction?’, if not call this number. I clicked the number and it called through, and the call went on for 30 minutes. The man I spoke to was lovely, we built up a rapport and he said they would send me a new card in three days.”
Through an elaborate structure, along with real people answering your call, the scam can be incredibly persuasive.
According to Claire’s bank, “When there has been no Santander error and customers have divulged personal, security information, we cannot accept any responsibility for the losses on the account.”
This means the stolen $75,000 will stay stolen, and there’s not much Claire can do about it.
According to consumer expert Henry Wallop, “Alarm bells shouldn’t necessarily have rung when the text come through – but you should always call the number on the back of your bank card, not a number in a text message. The number on the message was a fake number. The second alarm bell should have rung when they asked for your password – an official bank call will never ask for your password or security codes in full.”
Last week we reported on a separate elaborate scheme operating out of India and targeting American citizens.
By impersonating IRS agents with the use American accents, the India-based call centers would contact American citizens, informing them that they owed back taxes and that they’d be arrested upon failure to pay.
“We are still investigating the total amount of money collected by Sagar Thakkar,” said Mukund Hatote, assistant commissioner of police in Thane, “During the initial stage of investigation, it was looking around $300 million.”