Greenacres small business owner warns others after falling for Zelle scam

Greenacres small business owner warns others after falling for Zelle scam

GREENACRES, Fla. — The owner of a medical and psychiatric clinic called Contact 5 after losing $40,000 when her Zelle account was hacked by someone claiming to be with Chase Bank.

“It was on a Wednesday. I get a text that appeared to be from Chase because it had all the Chase messages in it, asking me if I was trying to make a transaction — $60,000 to someone, I think, in Ohio ,” Acelise Alexis, owner of KA Comprehensive Medical and Psychiatric Services, told Kontakt 5.

Concerned that someone had stolen her information, Alexis said she trusted the person on the other line.

“They had access to several of my Zelle receivers. I don’t know where they (got) them,” Alexis said. “They were trying to get in touch with my sister. They sent a code to her cell phone and said I had to read it for them. So I called my sister … I gave them the code, thinking it was Chase, and I guess it was a code to verify that I’m doing a transaction with my sister.”

Acelise Alexis, lost $40,000 in Zelle scam

Alex Hagan/WPTV

Acelise Alexis, owner of KA Comprehensive Medical and Psychiatric Services in Greenacres, says she lost $40,000 in a Zelle scam.

With that code, Alexis said they were able to hack her account and steal $40,000 while pretending to be Chase Bank the whole time.

Alexis told Contact 5 this is a big loss for her small business.

“We planned to give the money back, because the loan was about $100,000 when we first opened. We didn’t have the money,” Alexis said.

These days, apps like Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App are commonplace for quick transactions, and financial advisors warn that using them can often make it really tempting for someone to steal a person’s financial information if you’re not careful who you trust .

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“The main way they’ve done it is there’s a high trust factor,” said Carl Gould, owner of 7 Stage Advisors.

Gould told Kontakt 5 the key is to be skeptical when he receives a call or email from anyone wanting personal or banking information.

“If someone ever calls you, say, ‘Oh, can I have your name, and what’s your identification number? And if we lose touch, who do I call? What’s the number to call back? Who’s your direct supervisor?’ ‘” Gould said. “If they’re a legitimate organization, they’ll give you all that information.”

Jessica Bruno holding the iPhone with Zelle on it

Alex Hagan/WPTV

WPTV Contact 5 consumer research reporter Jessica Bruno holds an iPhone that displays the page to download the Zelle app.

The other option is to just hang up and call your bank directly and ask if this was a legitimate call or email, which is what Alexis said she’ll do next.

“Hang up right away,” Alexis said. “Don’t give out any information. Don’t talk to them. Call the bank, whatever the number on the back of your card is. Call it and find out if they’re trying to call you, and make sure it’s not What happened to me.”

Alexis told Contact 5 she is now working with her lawyers to try to get the money back.

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