RICHMOND, Va. -- When it comes to protecting her personal information, Bria Williams thought she was doing a good job. She said she is vigilant about checking her account, swapping out passwords and watching for red flags.
But last week she couldn't escape the clutches of a savvy criminal who got his hands on her banking information and her money.
“It really eats me,” Williams said. “It’s disheartening to know that there are people out there like that.”
Williams said it all began with a phone call from a familiar number, her credit union’s. That was followed by a text claiming to be from Virginia Credit Union.
“Pretty much saying, ‘Hey, did you attempt to use $650 at Smart Auto Loan with your card ending in this?’” Williams recalled. “Reply “y” for yes or “n” for no. So I replied “n” and it said, ‘Thank you, someone will be in contact with you shortly.’ So moments later they called me from that same exact phone number.”
While on the call, she Googled her credit union's number again to be sure.
“And it was. The guy on the phone is verifying my info: my address, my card number. So after he verified those things, I said, ‘OK, this is a legit call.’”
Williams said the man on the phone told her about three charges someone made to her account in Houston, Texas, and that he would send her a one-time code so the card could be deactivated.
“He says, ‘OK, what's your pin? I need your pin so I can put it in and we'll get this deactivated,’” she recalled. “I was hesitant, but I also was like I know it is the Virginia Credit Union man because he called from the phone number, so let me just give him this number.”
Still uneasy, Williams checked her account a short time later. She did not find bogus charges made in Texas, but saw two identical debits from her account made in Oklahoma City.
After getting in touch with a real Virginia Credit Union representative, Williams learned her credit union had no record of calling her.
Williams, who had been scammed, wants her story to be a cautionary tale for others.
“I'm 100% confused as to how they were able to duplicate the Virginia Credit Union number and impersonate them,” she said. “So I contacted you all so I could bring awareness to the situation.”
Virginia Credit Union is investigating the incident and Williams said she was told the credit union will return the money to her account.
The Better Business Bureau advises victims in cases like this to always report them to the police and to BBB officials. That way the agency can enter them into their scam tracker tool, so other customers can learn about it and avoid falling victim.
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