Checking scam has consumers double-checking their bank statements - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Posted by: George Metaxas, 7/2/04, 5:17 p.m.

Checking scam has consumers double-checking their bank statements

A checking scam has thousands double-checking their bank statements. When it comes to keeping our money safe, we all know the basic rules. At the top of the list, don't give out your bank account number. But it looks like one scam artist found a way to get that info without your help.

Online banking lets Bridget Walker watch her checking account like a hawk. "I pretty much keep it to the penny. I'm pretty good about that." Which is why she immediately got suspicious when she saw a 139-dollar withdrawal she never made. "I wanted to know where my money was. I wanted to know who was taking my money." A little research showed a company named Pharmacycards.com. took her money using a check with Walker's account number printed on it and a note that "no signature was required because the customer had already approved the transfer.

According to a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission , Walker was one of about 90-thousand people from across the country targeted by Pharmacycards.com who made off with more than 10-million dollars, 139-dollars at a time." The lawsuit says Pharmacycards.com posed as a legitimate online discount drug site. It got access to thousands of bank accounts, like Walker's, through other companies that manage electronic money transfers. Lt. Darrell Sheffield, MPD Economic Crimes said, If you do business, you're going to have your information out there somewhere." And fraud experts say as long as the scam artists know where too look, consumers like Walker will be easy marks.

The F-T-C says right now there are tens of thousand of victims like Walker working with their banks to get their money back. But thousands more may not yet realize they've been scammed. The commission recommends going back over your last few months bank statements.

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