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Arizona man targeted by scammers posing as USAA bank

The email appeared to be from USAA Federal Savings Bank, where Christansen has been a longtime member.
Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 4:24 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The scam started in Thomas Christansen’s email inbox. “On April 13, I received an email that stated there was a new person that had been added to my account,” he said. The email appeared to be from USAA Federal Savings Bank, where Christansen has been a longtime member. He knew he hadn’t added anyone to his account, so he clicked the link to log in and resolve the issue.

“That’s when things sort of ran amuck,” Christensen told 3 On Your Side. He was locked out of his account. “I can’t get in any way, shape, or form,” he said. “They have taken it over completely. Whoever this is that is doing this has completely taken my bank account.”

He called USAA for help but experienced hours-long call wait times. “The first phone call, my wait time was eight and a half hours. The second one was 11 hours,” he said, “And at this point, I don’t know what to do.”

Christensen turned to 3 On Your Side. Last week, he had seen our report warning USAA customers to be on the lookout for scammers posing as the bank. “I saw your article and I was amazed,” he said. “I was like, ‘This is me!’ This is exactly what’s happening.’”

According to Stacey Nash, the senior vice president of USAA Federal Savings Bank, there has been an increase in spoofing or imposter fraud targeting members, resulting in longer than usual call wait times for customer service. 3 On Your Side helped Ed and Cyndy Evans get $2,000 returned to their account after falling victim to the scam.

“It’s despicable,” Nash said in an interview last week. “The second you get an email, a text, or a phone call, be immediately just a little bit on guard or on alert because these criminals are going after consumers directly.”

We asked USAA to investigate Christensen’s case. He says after we got involved, he received a call from the real USAA. His situation is resolved now, and he has access to his account. Still, in the time that had passed while he was waiting on hold, Christensen says the scammers had added six checking accounts and six savings accounts under his primary account. A spokesperson for USAA said the bank continues to work with local and federal authorities to “identify and shut down these fraudsters.”