Woman Loses $10K After Scammers Pose as Her Bank. Now She Reveals How She Mistakenly Gave Them Full Access

The scammer took every step possible to look official to the busy mom

<p>Getty</p> Stock image of woman looking at her bank card and online banking account


Stock image of woman looking at her bank card and online banking account

A busy mom who was taken advantage of by scammers is sharing her story in hopes of protecting others.

Whitney Houchin, known as @whitneyhouchin90 on TikTok, asked people to spread the word after she was targeted by a unique scam.

"This is devastating. I've cried all morning and I'm gonna really try to hold it together," she began, explaining that her day started with some "unusual" calls from her bank around 9:00 a.m.

"I go ahead and answer because I don't know what's going on. It seems like maybe somebody got my card information, which, as we all know, happens pretty regularly nowadays," she explains.

Houchin emphasized that the number calling her was her bank, which matched the number she had saved for the bank as their customer in her phone.

She was then asked to verify security information, after which she was informed that someone had been trying to take money out of her account from an out-of-state ATM.

"I say I'm not [there], so go ahead and put a hold on my account," she shares. They then tell her that transfers also appear to be coming out of her savings accounts.

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Image © Tillsonburg / Getty Images Stock image of a money transfer sign
Image © Tillsonburg / Getty Images Stock image of a money transfer sign

Related: Andy Cohen Cautions Against Fraud Scams After 'Serious' Incident He Faced: 'I Don't Want This to Happen to Anyone'

"[The operator] tells me, 'We're going to send you three codes to freeze your accounts," instructing her to read the codes back as she receives them. The codes came through on the same text chain as her previous messages from the bank, so she trusted them and shared the codes.

"This lady sounds like someone who would work at Discover. She's not from another country. She's very friendly and [sympathizing,] saying, 'Yeah these fraudulent people, they just know how to get one over on you.' "

Houchin resolves the issue and gets off the phone, going about her day until she receives an email from Discover an hour later.

"I get an email that says 'Your wire transfer has gone through.' And I'm like, there shouldn't be a wire. So I call my bank and ... nobody from my bank had called me that morning."

While she acknowledges she should have "looked more into this," she reasoned that she was busy at work.

"Somebody hacked into my online banking and they were initiating everything from my online banking. And as they were doing that, they needed the codes that online banking asks for. They have me on the phone and they're typing them in to make all of these transfers go through," she explains, noting they spoofed Discover's call and text numbers.

"They took $10,000 out of my account, you guys. That's not my money, my savings account, that they took that money from. It was my kids' savings accounts. I have saved every penny that my kids have gotten from grandparents, aunts, and uncles and put them into savings accounts to give my kids someday."

<p>Chronis Jons / Getty Images</p> Stock image of a person using an ATM card

Chronis Jons / Getty Images

Stock image of a person using an ATM card

Houchin explains that Discover attempted a wire recall but initially informed her there was nothing they could do if that wasn't successful.

"There's nothing they can do and they are not on the hook for that because they are only on the hook for unauthorized transactions. Wires of money fall into a different category."

Houchin began to inform different establishments and agencies of what had happened, including calling SoFi, the bank to which the wires were sent.

Over a week passed, during which Houchin's story continued to go viral, until Discover got back to her, which she explained in an update.

"I didn't answer the first five times that they called me. I called back, got a hold of them. It was the executive office that was calling me, and they had received my complaint that I had turned in to the FDIC, the FTC, and the CFPB. I took y'all's advice. I went to as many places as I could, and I turned it in."

She continues, "They had also seen my TikTok. And so they said that they were giving me my money back."

Getty Images Stock image of person hiding money under a mattress
Getty Images Stock image of person hiding money under a mattress

Houchin made sure to tell the bank that she felt it was "insane that somebody could do a wire so quickly."

"I just feel like that's something that should take longer. I don't use wires regularly, so I felt like that's something that should have been more secure. That's just my opinion."

Houchin thanked TikTokers for "helping me keep my faith in humanity," and warned people to be careful with any interactions with financial institutions.

She concludes, "I am not gullible. I tell my mom and my grandma all the time to be careful about things. This was so believable."

"This was a life-changing experience. It was heartbreaking, but it had a happy ending."

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