It has been a dark time for Alice Lin.
Lin, 80, tells the NBC4 I-Team she lost more than $700,000, her life savings, after someone befriended her through text messages.
“It was so hard for the last year or so,” Lin explains. “My goal is to try to survive.”
In 2022, Lin says she began conversations with a man through an online web chat, and they discussed similar experiences like the loss of her husband to cancer years back. She says the man claimed to have also lost his wife tragically.
“And then I just start to trust him.”
She says he told her about investing in cryptocurrency, asked her to download apps to invest, and showed her what appeared to be profitable accounts.
“Then I was thinking, I can help my son, who is on disability. So, I thought, that would be good. That I can, you know, make a little bit of money,” Lin says.
“He gave me the instruction and where to send the money to. So for me to go to the bank, to wire the money, and at that time, I totally trust him, so I just follow him,” Lin adds.
She explains she visited local Chase bank branches and began making transfers — hundreds of thousands of dollars — only a couple of days apart in August of 2022, according to a complaint filed on her behalf in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday.
“We allege that there was a number of red flags and that Chase bank either knew that Ms. Lin was being scammed or definitely should have known,” Lin’s attorney Anne Marie Murphy says.
The complaint alleges Chase representatives did not “…ask any pertinent questions, flag these highly irregular and suspicious transactions for further review, or complete a sufficient risk assessment …”
The complaint also claims Lin had not made wires with Chase for several years prior and alleges bank representatives did not contact Lin or her eldest daughter, an authorized user on the account.
Floy Shieh, Lin’s daughter, says a notification from the bank could have helped her mother.
“I go to the gas station in some weird place, trying to spend $50. I get a notification on my cell phone,” Shieh says.
In a statement emailed to the NBC4 I-Team, a Chase spokesperson says:
“Consumers should always be suspicious when someone they don’t know asks them to urgently send money.
Scammers impersonate companies, banks, government agencies and even family members to try to trick consumers out of their hard earned money. We urge all consumers to ignore phone or internet requests for money or access to their computer or bank accounts. Legitimate organizations or companies won’t make these requests, but scammers will.
When customers visit our branches to complete wire transactions, our bankers ask questions, raise awareness around various scam scenarios and provide clear warnings that once a wire is sent, you may not be able to recover your money. These interactions occurred in this case when … Ms. Lin authorized these wires.”
Chase also provided their scam prevention tips:
If you want to be sure you are talking to a legitimate representative of your bank, call the number on the back of your card or visit a branch.
Scammers can “spoof” phone numbers. The caller ID can say the call or text is from Chase even though it’s not. They do this to trick people into providing their personal or financial information or to get you to send money. Remember, even if your caller ID says a call or text is from Chase, it could be a scam. When in doubt hang up and call us directly.
Consumers should protect their personal account information, passwords and one-time passcodes.
Banks will never call, text or email asking for you to send money to yourself or anyone else to prevent fraud.
Always double check who you are sending money to – once you send money, you might not get it back.
To learn more about common scams and ways to protect yourself, visit: www.chase.com/securitycenter.
Standing among her roses from more than 100 bushes she planted over the past year, Lin is now focusing on the things which bring her joy.
“Not only I want to be alive, I will try to see whether I can help the other victims to make aware all this happens,” Lin said.
Source: NBC Los Angeles