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    Sarasota small business out $10,000 after crook accessed bank account

    By Shannon Behnken,


    TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Joyce and Stan Fox run a promotional products business out of their Sarasota home. They say that business is hurting now because crooks stole their money.

    The couple says crooks somehow accessed their bank account in February and transferred $30,000 to themselves. The first $20,000 transaction was stopped, they were told, but the $10,000 transaction went through.

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    Now, four months later, the Foxes say their bank, Truist Bank, notified them they aren’t getting their money back because Truist has been unsuccessful in getting the money back from the account it was transferred to.

    “All of a sudden you find that somebody can have access to your account and they can take your money and you don’t get it back,” Joyce Fox said. “It’s unheard of to me. It’s unfathomable to me.”

    The couple say this started with their bank calling them to say someone was trying to use their business account to Zelle themselves money.

    The transactions were stopped, their bank account was frozen and the couple was asked to come into the bank.

    By the time they got there, they say they were told someone had made the two ACH transfers.

    “$5,000 of that money was allocated for sales tax and payroll tax that we still owe the government. That’s a huge amount of money,” Joyce Fox said.

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    Better Call Behnken reached out to Truist and a spokeswoman said the bank cannot disclose customer details. She sent this statement:

    At Truist, protecting our clients and their accounts continues to be a top priority and we take any potential fraud concerns seriously.

    All financial institutions across the country are experiencing escalated fraud attacks from criminals. The Federal Trade Commission recently reported that consumers lost nearly $10 billion to fraud in 2023 , an increase of more than 14 percent over the previous year. This is why Truist continues to diligently educate our clients on the current fraud schemes and how to protect their identity and immediately report instances where they believe their identity has been compromised.

    We also provide tools, tips, and resources on our website that consumers can visit to learn more:

    Joyce Fox says wants answers. She says ACH transfers typically require her to authorize them using a PIN. Not only was she not notified of the pending transaction, she says it occurred when the account was supposed to be on hold.

    “They took it out without our permission. I don’t understand how they can justify not giving us the money back just because they didn’t get the money back,” she said. “We didn’t tell them to pay anybody.”

    Consumer Investigator Shannon Behnken reached out to a consumer watchdog with PIRG who says this should fall under the federal electronic funds transfers act and that the consumer should be able to get their funds back.

    She recommends consumers in a similar situation go to their bank first and file a police report with local law enforcement. If the bank doesn’t respond quickly, she recommends consumers file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which may be able to navigate them through this process.

    More information on Reg E parameters from the Federal Reserve can be found here .

    To file a complaint with the CFPB, visit here .

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WFLA.

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