Duluth woman shares scam story to warn others

Lillyana Moen had never heard of a scam involving money transfer app Zelle until it happened to her.

"I was actually at work, picking up a client, and I got a phone call from a random number. Didn’t answer it," she said. "Got another phone call, and I answered it, and they said, ‘This is the U.S. Bank fraud department.’"

She had a feeling there was something off, so she hung up and Googled the phone number. Sure enough, it was the fraud line for U.S. Bank.

When they called a third time, Moen said they verified her name, birthday, address, and email. She said they then told her somebody was trying to get into her account. She told them to do what they needed to secure it.

"And they’re like, ‘OK, well, you’re going to go onto Zelle and send this payment. And it’s not going to leave your bank account. It’s going to stay in your bank account. But we need it to find the people,’" Moen said.

She sent $3,500 and then asked what the next steps were. They hung up.

When she called back, she got the real U.S. Bank fraud department. They eventually opened an investigation, but Moen’s claim was denied.

"They said because I authorized it, I sent it over, that technically doesn’t fall under the fraud umbrella," Moen said.

According to the National Consumers League, that’s true. Under current federal regulations, banks are not liable.

Moen is out the $3,500, money set aside as the 21-year-old plans her wedding and is in the process of buying a house.

"I never thought that it would happen to me. I thought I would be smart enough to avoid a scammer," she said. "But it happens. They’re really, really good."

She said she’ll be OK and will work to save up the money again. Now, she tells people to avoid Zelle altogether, to ignore unknown phone calls, and if there is a concern about fraud to take care of it in person at a local branch.

"I just think it’s frustrating, like if this is how people are making money, that blows my mind," she said. "And I’m able to save money, I’m able to get that money back with work and stuff, but there’s other people who aren’t."

A U.S. Bank representative said they could not comment on Moen’s personal situation but offered this statement:

"At U.S. Bank, we take fraud complaints seriously and have fraud monitoring techniques in place to help protect customers. We remind consumers to be vigilant in watching their accounts for suspicious activity. We have a 24-hour fraud hotline (877.595.6256) and share tips on our website to help consumers spot financial scams and learn what to do if they’ve been targeted."