Orange County college student scammed out of thousands of dollars through 'Zelle' app

ByDavid Gonzalez KABC logo
Saturday, May 14, 2022
OC college student scammed out of thousands through 'Zelle' app
"It turned out the check was a fraud." Ester Jung, a college student in Orange County, said she lost over $2,000 in a rental, money transfer scam through the "Zelle" app.

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- It's a situation no one wants to find themselves in, but sometimes scammers get their way, and your money.

Ester Jung, a college student in Orange County, said she lost $2,905 in a rental, money transfer scam.

Jung wanted to sublease her apartment this summer and thought she had connected with the perfect person through a trusted housing group for students on Facebook.

"She sent me her ID, which established some form of credibility," Jung said. "She told me about herself. She asked me to tell her about myself, and she was more -- she seemed more interested in looking at the apartment."

She said the person sent a check to secure the apartment and expenses, which she deposited.

"Everything was processed, it was not in a pending state," Jung said.

However, soon after she said the alleged scammer asked for the money back, claiming she needed it to get to California.

RELATED: LA woman loses over $18K through 'Zelle' after scammers text, call her pretending to be bank

Officials are warning about a scam that's taking advantage of unsuspecting victims who make electronic withdrawals from their bank accounts.

Jung said because she trusted the person, she transferred money back from her Bank of America account using the Zelle app.

"It turned out the check was a fraud," she said.

University of California Irvine police Detective Sam Soon said these types of rental and wire transfer scams happen far too often.

"We always look at it with extreme compassion," He said.

He urges people to look for red flags and inconsistencies.

RELATED: In latest Zelle scam, Wells Fargo customers lose thousands after fraudsters pose as bank employees

Wells Fargo customers are being targeted by fraudsters claiming to be bank employees -- and trick victims into transferring money to them via Zelle.

"If you're the victim of some type of rental scam most likely there might be other victims out there as well," Soon said.

Jung feels foolish for becoming the victim of this scam and wants others to be careful.

She's holding out hope she will be able to get her money back.

In a statement, Bank of America said: "As always, consumers should know and trust who they are sending money to before initiating a transaction, regardless of payment method. In cases like this, we attempt to get the money back from the receiving bank; however there is no guarantee since the customer has authorized the payment. We periodically reach out to clients with information about how to stay safe and avoid scams and we also post information on our website alerting people to scams."