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Stockton family business shares story of how they became a victim of fraud

The Stockton Hearing Aid Dispensing Center says more than $12,000 was taken from its account through a fraudulent Zelle transfer.

STOCKTON, Calif. — A Stockton family business recently had more than $12,000 drained from its Bank of America account. The family reached out to ABC10 after unsuccessfully trying to get the money back for months.

ABC10's Alex Bell looked into it and spoke with one of the business owners.

"Nov. 2 we did what we normally do," said Stockton Hearing Aid Dispensing Center owner Lizzie Perkins. "We checked our bank account or online apps and it looked like we had paid somebody via Zelle through Bank of America $12,500, which we had not."

Perkins says neither she nor her husband made the payment, so they immediately called their bank.

"The person on the other line said, 'Well, that has actually happened instantaneously, it's a Zelle transaction,'" said Perkins. "Why is it processing if it's happened instantaneously? Why does it say processing on the app... they couldn't give us a clear answer. This is our business account. This is a drop in the bucket for Bank of America, but this is everything for our business."

The Stockton Hearing Aid Dispensing Center is a business that mostly works with the elderly and veterans supplying them with hearing aids.

After hours and days on hold, Perkins realized they weren't getting anywhere. Then, she was told by a Bank of America representative their claim had been filed as a scam, not a fraud.

"She said this has been logged incorrectly, this has been logged as a scam," said Perkins. "I said, 'Well, it's not a scam,' and I was very clear, this has been a fraud."

She says they were told if it's considered a scam, then they have to work with Zelle directly. They filed a police report and even showed their phone records as directed by Bank of America to help with the investigation, but weeks kept going by. Then came the holidays.

"This is our working capital," said Perkins. "I mean, COVID almost took us out, we have three kids with special needs, we are just trying to make ends meet. It's hard, especially happening at Christmas time. I didn't get to buy Christmas presents. I didn't get to have a nice Christmas dinner with our kids, we were opening cans. It was really humbling."

After weeks of calling and going to Bank of America branches, Perkins said, "I think one of the hardest things was feeling completely powerless. It's ridiculous when you think that this kind of money is being played with outside of your control. I think there needs to be transparency and honesty. If it's instantaneous, it needs to say instantaneous transaction, not processing."

ABC10 reached out to Bank of America about their case and recently learned the issue was resolved.

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