Wells Fargo business account ‘tested’ by account takeover thieves

Long-time customer loses $124,000 in scheme

ORLANDO, Fla. – A long-time Wells Fargo business account holder is the latest victim of unauthorized withdrawals and transfers totaling just under $150,000.

Robert Branagh told News 6 he was able to recover about $24,000 that was illegally transferred from his Volusia County business account to a personal account.

“I immediately filed a fraudulent claim thinking OK, it will be taken care of,” a frustrated Branagh said. “Nobody can answer (who authorized the transfers), that’s the question I keep asking Wells Fargo”

Under Nacha rules, a fraudulent Automated Clearing House (ACH) or business transfer must be reported to the bank within two business days, according to a letter issued to Branagh by Wells Fargo.

The first breach took place on Aug. 17 but was not noticed until Aug. 29 after a total of $149,296.48 was taken in a series of withdrawals.

According to bank records, a final withdrawal of $10,000 was taken out of Branagh’s business account on Aug. 28.

And $530 was taken out of his daughter’s account on Aug. 29 . Once his daughter called him to ask why Branagh had taken the funds, he started to check his other accounts and discovered his money was gone.

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Jamie Krygowski, assistant special agent in charge with the U.S. Secret Service Orlando office, said the account may have been tested by a potential buyer of stolen accounts.

“If I was on the purchasing end of this (the account), I would want real-time information,“ Krygowski told News 6. “As fast as the money comes in, it goes out.”

Krygowski said the small withdrawals suggested a test to see if the account was active. That ended with a flurry of larger withdrawals totaling just under $150,000.

That is why the Secret Service stresses that anyone with a checking or savings account should check their accounts every day.

If you feel your account has been compromised, tell your bank immediately and report the incident to local law enforcement or the U.S. Secret Service.

If you have any question or need assistance, email makekendsmeet@wkmg.com or text the words “make ends meet” along with your contact information and the issue to 407-676-7428.

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About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.