San Diego

Carlsbad Couple Scammed Out of $9,000 In “Imposter Scam”

Scammer used spoofed phone numbers and fake verification codes to access couple’s account.

Krystal Cook’s husband, an active duty Marine, was at a training exercise in Florida when she says he got a phone call from USAA Bank.

He answered the phone. Krystal says the person on the other line told her husband that USAA had detected fraudulent transactions on their debit card. The person claiming to be from USAA told Krystal’s husband that a text with a verification code would be sent to his phone, and to follow the instructions on the text. Krystal says her husband didn’t think anything of it. He called back and gave his bank account and personal identification numbers to the person on the other line.

“They had the same wording as USAA,” said Krystal. “They used the same lines, ‘Thank you for being a trusted member.’ They even had the same music playing while he was on hold.”

Krystal says her husband returned to San Diego from his training. The couple checked their bank account. That’s when they learned their bank account was empty, that more than $9,000 had been withdrawn from their checking and savings accounts.

“We called USAA panicking. We asked when our new debit card was coming and they said, ‘What card?’”

Krystal said she called again and the USAA spokesperson told her that the scammers had withdrawn their money from two ATM machines in New York City a day after her husband had received the call.

At first, Krystal says USAA was unable to return the money, mostly due to the fact that Krystal’s husband had given his bank account information out.

Krystal, however, refused to accept that they were at fault.

Krystal contacted NBC 7 Responds. She called USAA again.

That’s when she received the good news from a person in USAA’s Financial Crimes Prevention.

The bank had decided to reimburse the couple’s money.

But, according to a representative from USAA, Krystal and her husband are not alone, in fact customers of all financial institutions are at risk of getting fooled by what is known in the industry as the “Imposter Scam.”

“This is an industry-wide problem,” said Mike Slaugh, the executive director for USAA’s Financial Crimes Prevention. “At USAA we will never call you and ask you for your log-on information. This includes your PINs, your passwords, and your tone time codes.”

As for Krystal and her husband, she says the experience has changed the couple forever.

“It’s scary and we are still scared,” said Krystal. “My advice; always call the number back before you give out any information.”

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