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Fraud Is Flourishing on Zelle. The Banks Say It’s Not Their Problem.

Fraud Is Flourishing on Zelle. The Banks Say It’s Not Their Problem.
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Another Wells Fargo customer, Julia Gibson, lost $2,500 to a similar scam in October. After she reported the fraud to the bank, it gave her a provisional credit for the lost cash. But in January, the bank abruptly rescinded the credit, sending her balance to zero and incurring overdraft fees. The bank had decided the loss wasn’t fraudulent.

“What was so frustrating about this whole thing was that the customer service rep I talked to told me so many people had been experiencing this,” Ms. Gibson said.

In their appeals to Wells Fargo, Mr. Fence and Ms. Gibson cited the consumer bureau’s rules about fraudulent losses, but the bank repeatedly rebuffed them.

“There are certain indicators that we look for in the investigation to let us know that there has indeed been fraud on the account,” Wells Fargo wrote to Mr. Fence on Feb. 23. “During the investigation, we were not able to find any of those indicators present and denied the claim.”

After The Times contacted the bank, it refunded Ms. Gibson.

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

Other victims of fraud trying to recover their money from banks have had better luck when citing the law.

Ken Page-Romer, a psychotherapist and author who lives in Long Beach, NY, had $19,500 taken from his account in November after he received spoofed text alerts and calls that appeared to come from Citigroup phone numbers. The bank 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 banking regulators. Citi soon returned his stolen money.

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