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Waco family loses $25,000 in 'convincing' banking scam

Posted at 7:20 PM, Apr 06, 2022

WACO, Texas — Scammers are getting creative when it comes to stealing money and one Waco family recently fell victim to a scam hitting victims nationwide.

Mary Theresa and Dubert Bryan Mathis told 25 News they had no idea what was happening when they were scammed out of $25,000 earlier this year.

Mary Theresa got a phone call on January 21, 2022. The caller identified themselves as a Wells Fargo employee following up on some fraudulent activity.

"She's going straight down my bank account reading off what I had spent and that was so convincing," Mary Theresa said. "Then she said 'oh so did you make the $25,000 advance out of your account?' And I said no."

The alleged bank employee then walked her through the process of what she thought was closing her accounts and opening new ones.

"I never gave one bit of personal information to this person," Mary Theresa said. "I did not give them an account number, I did not give them anything. They gave it to me. They already knew. They were already on my account."

Mathis hung up that morning thinking she stopped a potential scam but called the bank back later in the day with a question. That's when a real customer service representative told her there was no record of her previous call and the $25,000 was gone.

"I was just terrified and they said don't worry, we'll take care of this," she said.

Another statement that did not turn out to be true. After months of back and forth, the bank said there was nothing they could do.

"They said they needed the permission of the person that stole my money to take it back," Mary Theresa said.

Now more than a month later, that money is still missing.

The Mathis family's story is not uncommon. According to the Better Business Bureau, there was roughly $135,000 lost to scammers in Texas in 2021.

So how can you protect yourself?

"Really and truly, be cautious of anything inbound," BBB Specialist Jason Meza said. "We tell people to play defense. If you didn't ask for a call to be initiated to you, you're pretty much-playing defense and keep your guard up in case anything you reveal can be used against you on a call."

If scammers do reach out to you pretending to be your bank, it's recommended to hang up and call a customer service line on the back of your card.

25 News reached out to Wells Fargo for more information on Wednesday.

A media representative said they weren't able to discuss the specifics of this case, but they are "actively working to raise awareness of common scams to help prevent these heartbreaking incidents".