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Consumer says scammers using 'electronic deposits' to prey on victims

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"The people who ripped me off, they called me," Brandi Fjeld told 3 On Your Side. (Source: 3TV) "The people who ripped me off, they called me," Brandi Fjeld told 3 On Your Side. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Whether she's paying bills online or paying by check, Brandi Fjeld says her bills never stop coming.  

"I have a car payment, Internet and cable and phone. Um, the electric," Fjeld explained, running everything she has to pay.

When she fell behind recently, Fjeld said she got on the Internet, typed "personal loan" in a search engine and boom, the results rolled in. 

"There were a bunch of things," she said. "It was all kinds of title loans and payday loans on there."

But unfortunately for consumers like Fjeld, scammers frequently masquerade as legitimate loan companies. In fact, after filling out some information online with what she thought was a loan company, her phone rang and a caller with the thick foreign accent claimed to have good news.

"They actually called me. I didn't even call them," Fjeld told 3 On Your Side. "The people who ripped me off, they called me."

The man on the other end of the line said he was a loan officer whose company agreed to deposit $1,021 into Fjeld's checking account. According to Fjeld, $1,021 popped up as a pending deposit.  

Fjeld said she felt relieved. 

"It seemed so legitimate to me," she said. "It seemed like a trustworthy organization." 

Like she was instructed to do by that so-called loan officer, Fjeld immediately went to a nearby Wal-Mart and using Money Gram, she wired $906 back to the loan company

Why would she have to send money back?

"To establish trust with the organization is what they told me," Fjeld explained. She said that's the reason the "loan officer" gave her.

But it didn't stop there.  

Fjeld said she got a voicemail from the loan officer just an hour later. 

She played the audio recording for us.

"Hi. This message is for Brandi.  Hi, Brandi.  This is John Kerry calling you ...."

The man calling himself John Kerry instructed Fjeld to use MoneyGram again to wire another $511.50, and in a third transaction an additional $406. She did.

With those three transactions, Fjeld wired $1,824.50 to a scammer she thought was a loan company.

As for that electronic deposit for $1,021 that was pending, Fjeld said it vanished from her bank account within hours.  She said it was like it was never there.

That's the new way scammers are operating.  They used to send victims a paper check and ask them to deposit it. By the time the bank discovered the check was fake, however, the victim has already wired funds back.

As for Fjeld, she said she's forced to repay Bank of America the $1,824 that she wired. It's money she certainly doesn't have. 

"I got suckered like I have never been suckered before," she told 3 On Your Side.

3 On Your Side is in contact with Bank of America.  The bank says it is looking into the matter to see if anything can be done to help Fjeld. MoneyGram is looking, as well.

When there is an update, 3 On Your Side will let you know.

Copyright 2015 3TV (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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