Broomfield woman loses nearly $2,000 due to unauthorized Zelle trades

DENVER — Scam artists have gotten so sophisticated in their schemes these days that they’d likely make excellent salespeople if they were on the right side of the law.

But it wasn’t a compelling pitch or an unexpected spam call Dena Mendoza, a freelancer from Broomfield, received on June 30 that resulted in losses of nearly $2,000. Instead, Mendoza says he noticed more than a dozen transactions on his Zelle account, a peer-to-peer money transfer service, which is linked to his Blue Federal Credit Union account.

“Continuous withdrawals of $100 and $200 were withdrawn from my account,” Mendoza said. “It really put a damper on my finances, and it was really difficult.”

Mendoza says she has never provided sensitive information like her social security number or passwords to anyone, nor has she ever been in a suspicious situation where that information was compromised. .

“I didn’t know where to turn and thought my banking institution would be there to support me,” Mendoza said.

She says her credit union determined these transactions were authorized, leaving her shocked and confused.

“I also feel like a victim of them, especially the risk management department who inquired. And I felt very accused of being the culprit of this and then trying to get the money back,” Mendoza said.

Denver7 has contacted Blue Federal Credit Union several times via email and phone since Wednesday, but has not received a response.

Credit card processing expert Rajil Vohra points out that Zelle doesn’t have the same protections as credit and debit cards.

“The premise of [Zelle] wasn’t commercial, so nobody thought much about protection programs,” Vohra said. “So that’s one of the reasons why it’s like an open invitation to fraud.”

In the meantime, Mendoza feels the way her credit union has handled the case is underwhelming, considering all the years she’s been their client.

“I’m not getting the answers I feel I rightly deserve at an institution I work with or have been banking at for 24 years,” Mendoza said.

Frustrations like Mendoza’s were highlighted by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Robert Menendez and Jack Reed, who in April sent a letter to the company that created Zelle, Early Warning Services, LLC, which is owned by seven of the America’s largest banking institutions. , including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Truist, JP Morgan Chase, Capitol One, PNC Bank and US Bank.

The letter says nearly 18 million people have been affected by scams involving money transfer apps like Zelle.

“Alarmingly, your company and the major banks that own and partner with the platform have abdicated responsibility for fraudulent transactions, leaving consumers with no way to recover their funds,” the letter reads.

The letter also states that “banks have chosen to let consumers suffer, blaming them for authorizing fraudulent transactions.”

In the coming weeks, there may be some relief for consumers. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plans to create tougher rules that would push banks to refund more customers and tighten rules around fraudulent money transfers seen with services like Zelle.

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