Largo woman lost money to Zelle after scammer posed as utility company

LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — A Largo woman says scammers posing as Duke Energy employees tricked her into sending them money through Zelle.

Tica Bagar remembers a ringing phone that woke her up Saturday morning. The person on the other end of the line pretended to be Duke Energy and threatened to cut off their electricity if they didn’t pay immediately – through the payment app, Zelle.

She explains that the scammer told her how to transfer money to a fake Duke account using Zelle. She lost a total of $278.

When she realized what had happened, she hung up and called her bank, Wells Fargo. However, his request for reimbursement was refused. She said it was because she wired the money.

Begar is one of a growing number of consumers targeted by scammers using Zelle. Unlike credit card transactions, some banks reject Zelle’s fraud allegations, saying consumers themselves initiated the transactions.

“You put their name on your account, so you tell me you save it because it’s like a credit card,” Bagar said.

A Well Fargo spokesperson sent this statement:

“Helping our customers avoid scams is a priority, and we are 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 that it appears as if a call or text is from a business or government agency. If you have any concerns, end communication with the person who contacted you and take the time to research.

“As we work with scammed customers, we follow applicable laws and regulatory guidelines, including Regulation E, based on the facts of each customer’s situation.”

A Duke spokeswoman said the company is aware of the scheme and wants customers to know that Duke will never call you and demand payment immediately, threatening immediate disconnection from service.

She also said Duke does not accept payments through payment apps or prepaid gift cards.

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