How common Zelle scam works so you can avoid it

Cynthia Lucas says it started with a text that looked like it was from her bank, asking if she had authorized a certain transaction.

“I was like freaking out and in that fight or flight mode,” she said.

She says the scammer then called her and said he was with her bank, Wells Fargo’s fraud department.

“This person, posing as a Wells Fargo employee, was actually an imposter,” she said.

She says he walked her through steps, promising they would stop the criminals and keep her money out of their hands.

“They’ve got you fearing that your money’s going to be drained before your eyes, right from your account,” she said.

“I felt sick. I knew I had been scammed,” she said.

Instead, Lucas says the caller ended up stealing $3,500 from her account.

(WATCH BELOW: Majority of people who told Action 9 they fell for Zelle scam bank with Wells Fargo)

Bank insiders told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke here are how the scams works:

  • Scammers get your account information (maybe from a data breach or you clicked on a link you shouldn’t have).
  • But they still need a two-factor authentication code to *access* your account.
  • That’s when the acting starts.
  • They pose as your bank, text you, say your account may have been compromised, and follow up with a phone call.
  • Then they or you, it’s not clear who, try to log in to your account.
  • That triggers the two-factor authentication.
  • You get that all-important code.
  • They ask you for that number as part of the “remedy.”
  • If you give it to them, they now have everything they need to get into your account and help themselves to your money.

Advice from Action 9:

  • Don’t fall for the text.
  • Don’t fall for the phone call.
  • Scammers can spoof your bank’s number -- so don’t trust your Caller ID.
  • Don’t give them that 6-digit code.

(WATCH BELOW: Used Zelle to pay scammer? Little-known law could get your money back)