MARILLA, N.Y. (WKBW) — In November, Jerry Owczarczak deposited $27,000 into his Citizens Bank checking account in order to pay a home equity loan, but a phone call the next morning led to it all disappearing.
Owczarczak, a father of nine, said he is currently putting his youngest child through college, and this loss was a big hit.
On November 16, he went to his Citizens Bank branch on Main Street in East Aurora to deposit $27,000 from a Fidelity account into his checking account.
The next morning Owczarczak said he got a phone call from a man claiming to be from Citizen Bank's fraud department.
"They said you had a large deposit put in, and they gave me my checking account number," explained Owczarczak.
He was told there was an issue with his deposit.
"They said Mr. Owczarczak, we'd like you to help us out with this, but we need to make it look like that money is still moving," explained Owczarczak. "I said I'm not willing to take the money out of that account. They said we’re not going to, but we’d like you to do a wire transfer, but the wire transfer is going to be a bogus account used for tracking."
Owczarczak said he cannot have the money come out, and denied the request at first.
"He goes Mr. Owczarczak my father didn’t raise somebody that would go over and get somebody to trust him, and then take advantage of him," said Owczarczak. "He got me with that line."
Owczarczak got in his van, and drove back to his bank, while on the phone with the man the entire time. Owczarczak said the man on the other end of the phone coached him on what he needed to do to wire transfer the money.
Owczarczak said the money had already transferred successfully from his deposit, but he still went ahead with the wire transfer believing the man on the phone. Within the next couple of hours, his online account summary showed the money he just wire transferred was withdrawn, unlike he was told.
"They guaranteed me this has never happened before, and 'We will make sure the money is back in your account within two hours,'" said Owczarczak. The money never made it back in his account.
When he called Citizens Bank, he said he was told it was a scam. The bank tired multiple times to get his money back, but with no luck they dropped his case.
Owczarczak contacted 7 Problem Solvers, still looking at options to get his money back.
7 Problem Solver Michael Schwartz contacted Citizens Bank. A representative said:
"We are sorry to hear that one of our customers may have been the victim of a scam. While we do not comment specifically on individual accounts, we do work closely with law enforcement when incidents occur and provide continuous training for our colleagues in order to help detect such incidents. As always, we urge our customers to be very diligent and not to send money to people that they do not know."
He had the situation escalated, but still no luck.
While Owczarczak knows it's his fault, he feels the teller who was working when he wire transferred the money should've asked him if he knew who the money was going to, and what it was for.
Cyber security experts warn to never doubt the information a scammer can get. Jonathan Weissman, a cyber security professor at RIT and Finger Lakes Community College, said hackers can send a link that can give them access to your computer once you click it. They can then gather confidential information over weeks, and months - such as bank account numbers - to to get your money at a crucial time.
7 Problem Solvers is looking for other ways to help Ozczarczak.
If you have a consumer issue that's impacting you, email Michael at 7ProblemSolvers@WKBW.com