LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — A Largo woman said crooks pretending to be employees of Duke Energy tricked her into sending them money through Zelle.
Tica Bagar remembers a ringing phone waking her up on Saturday morning. The person on the other end claimed to be Duke Energy and threatened to turn off her electricity if she didn’t pay immediately — through the payment app, Zelle.
She explains the crook walked her through how to transfer money to a fake Duke account using Zelle. She lost a total of $278.
When she realized what happened she hung up and and called her bank, Wells Fargo. Her request for a refund, though, was denied. She said that’s because she transferred the money.
Begar is one of a growing number of consumers targeted by crooks using Zelle. Unlike credit card transactions, some banks deny Zelle fraud claims, claiming the consumers themselves initiated the transactions.
“You put their name on your account, therefore you’re telling me you back that up because it is just like a credit card,” Bagar said.
A Well Fargo spokesman sent this statement:
“Helping our customers avoid scams is a priority, and we’re actively working to raise awareness to prevent these heartbreaking incidents. We want to make sure everyone is aware that criminals can spoof a caller ID number so it appears as if a call or text is from a company or government agency. If you have any concerns, end communication with the person who contacted you and take time to research.“
“As we work with customers who are the victims of scams, we follow the applicable laws and regulatory guidance, including Regulation E, based on the facts of each customer’s situation.”
A spokeswoman for Duke said the company is aware of this scheme and wants customers to know that Duke will never call you and ask for payment immediately, threatening immediate disconnection of service.
She also said Duke does not accept payment through payment apps or pre-paid gift cards.