Scammers seize Sarasota man’s cell phone, use online banking app to transfer nearly $ 20,000


Started with a scam email that appeared to be from Chase Bank

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Larry Kraus saw the email arrive on his phone while he was working on June 21. He thought Chase Bank was trying to protect him from identity thieves. But it was the start of a sophisticated financial ambush.

Busy at work, he didn’t notice that the email address wasn’t from an official Chase account. He clicked on the link, probably downloading malware on his phone. Then he responded to personal information, including his address and social security number.

His account “got unlocked” just like Chase’s fake rep said. A few hours later, everything changed.

Kraus’ cell phone has stopped working.

“I couldn’t make calls,” he said. “I couldn’t receive text messages. It was as if the phone was brand new and had never been configured before.

He went to Verizon to get the phone fixed, and things got worse.

“They said, ‘By the way, did you call Verizon to tell them that none of our employees could do anything with the phone?’ I said no.’ They said, ‘These guys are good.

It was just the start.

“At the same time, while Verizon was fixing the issues, they called Chase and said they had authorized a wire transfer from my online banking to Bank of America in the amount of almost $ 20,000.” Kraus said.

The crooks also attempted to transfer to other accounts, including $ 25,870 to the crooks’ online trading account with Robinhood.

At that time, Krause was standing in a branch of Chase Bank and halted these transactions, but his nearly $ 20,000 was gone.

Chase launched an investigation, but over seven weeks later Krause hasn’t seen a dime and no one from the bank has called him back for weeks.

Feeling helpless, he knew he better call Behnken. A spokesperson for Chase told me that she would escalate this case and that a member of the management team would contact him directly.

“They should take priority and return the money as soon as possible and continue their investigation to determine where it came from and how it started, but not leave an individual like me without that amount of money. It affects your livelihood, ”Kraus said.


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