Local senior sues bank after losing over $700K to bank fraud – CBS Los Angeles

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/ KCAL News
A local senior lost her life savings to bank fraud, and now she is suing her bank claiming it should have done more to protect her money.
80-year-old Alice Lin lost more than $700,000 after clearing out her retirement and savings accounts for what she thought was a legitimate crypto investment.
Now, she is struggling to pay her bills and suing her bank for not protecting its elderly customers.
Alice Lin is trying to find comfort in the simple things- after her life was turned upside down by financial scammers.
Back in the summer of 2022, the 80-year-old widowed Taiwanese immigrant got an unsolicited message from a man on the app “WeChat.” She cultivated an online friendship where the scammer eventually convinced her to download a crypto trading app.
Lin said she built up trust with him. “He showed me how to do it and told me to wire money,” said Alice Lin, victim.
The app turned out to be fake and within 3 weeks Lin wired $720,000 to the scammer who stopped communicating with her after.
Lin was a victim of an increasingly popular scam called pig butchering, where the victim is gradually lured into making increasing contributions- by gaining their trust first. the terms refers to fattening up a pig before slaughter.
“I’ve been through hell, and I don’t want anyone to go through what I’ve been through,” said Lin.
In January 2024, Lin filed a lawsuit against her longtime bank, Chase, claiming it should have done more to protect its most vulnerable customers, senior citizens.
“Only if they had done a little something to protect elders like me from being scammed, I wouldn’t be where i am now an 80 year old widow left to pick up the pieces of my life,” said Lin.
According to the lawsuit, chase missed several red flags. Lin was keeping a small amount of money in her checking account, but wired tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars out of her investment accounts in a short period of time.
“It was seven transactions alleged in the complaint that happened where she’s sending tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars anybody would say ‘Hey, you know, maybe this is a little bit concerning that your banking transaction is completely different than your normal behavior.'”
Lin’s adult daughter was also on the account, but said she was not notified of the transactions. Lin’s lawsuit references a California law that says those who assist in fraudulent transactions against the elderly can be liable.
 
“Chase had a responsibility to look out for its elderly customers and to use reasonable practices to identify scams and take reasonable steps, and that those steps might be refusing to complete a wire transfer.”
 A Chase Bank spokesperson tells KCAL News that they did their due diligence, claiming that both the banker and a manager asked probing questions before completing Lin’s wire request. They also say that she was warned before sending the money that she may not be able to recover it in the event of fraud and that she read a warning on how to protect oneself from scams. 
The FBI says that similar scams have resulted in loss of more than $3 billion from American victims. 
Experts offer a series of tips to protect yourself from falling victim, including not sending money to anyone you don’t know personally, be wary of anyone who initiates contact with you out of the blue, and keep an eye out for red flags, like someone you don’t know asking you for money — even if its an investment. 
Kristine Lazar is an Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter for CBS2 and KCAL9 News. Kristine graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UC Berkeley, after growing up by the beach in San Diego.
First published on February 20, 2024 / 6:46 PM PST
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©2024 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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