Utah family says their bank refuses to reimburse fraudulent charges

Feb 26, 2024, 10:12 PM | Updated: Feb 27, 2024, 5:43 am

TAYLORSVILLE — A Taylorsville family says a hacker drained thousands of dollars out of their bank accounts and left them overdrawn by tens of thousands more. They thought federal banking rules protected them, but they say their bank has refused to reimburse them for those losses.

“There were some charges on our bank account,” Drea Richardson said of her startling discovery that someone had hacked into her bank account.

That someone transferred in $5,000 and then immediately took it back out.

“So, they did that daily for a period of days,” said Drea’s husband, Adam.

Adam says he notified his bank of the suspicious activity, but it continued: $5,000 in, $5,000 back out – over and over again until the transactions became just $5,000 out.

“Just straight withdrawals – one after the other,” Drea said.

Their contact info had been changed so the Richardsons didn’t see any emails, texts, or notifications of any kind.

“Didn’t see it happening until my card…they…they stopped transactions on my checking account,” Adam said.

By that time, a total of $60,000 had been transferred out, leaving their account overdrawn by over $53,000. The Richardsons believed they were protected when they called their bank.

“They said, “OK, we’ve looked at it. It’s clearly not you,’” recounted Drea of her conversation with a bank representative. “’We’ve gone ahead and taken care of it. Your funds are safe.’”

However, the bank apparently changed its mind and decided all those transfers were authorized.

“They said, ‘Nope, there’s no fraudulent activity,’” said Drea. “’This was all done through your profile and because it was done through your personal profile, you’re responsible for this.’”

Now, Drea and Adam say they’re on the hook for that overdrawn $53,000.

“I got a letter from the bank saying that they will be pursuing with collections,” said Drea, who added the bank abruptly closed all their accounts.

Not taking that as the final answer, the Richardsons contacted me.

“To allow this many transactions to go through and approve transaction after transaction and then to turn around and say, ‘Oh no – there’s no fraudulent charge!’”

Now, if a bank won’t refund stolen money, it could be violating Regulation E. That’s a federal rule in the Electronic Fund Transfer Act saying with unauthorized transactions, banks have an obligation to restore funds.

So, the KSL Investigators reached out to the Richardsons’ bank, USAA, to ask why they’re not protected. In a statement, the bank would not share any details about this case but told us:

“USAA is committed to protecting its members from fraud and resolving issues when they occur. We investigate each incident so that we can best serve impacted members while also protecting our broader membership from any bad actors.”

The Richardsons, however, got more news. They told us after we contacted USAA, the bank credited the fraudulent transactions and is restoring the money they had in their accounts.

The Richardsons still don’t know how someone got access to their accounts, though they insist no one tricked them into sharing their account info. Even if they had, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says when someone is fraudulently induced into sharing their account access info, that transfer is still unauthorized under Regulation E.

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Utah family says their bank refuses to reimburse fraudulent charges