FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. - A Fairfax County salon owner is suing Truist bank after she says she lost $60,000 in wire transfer fraud.
Lydia Hagen, who owns Hidden Oasis Salon in Fairfax Station, is among multiple Truist bank customers who tell FOX 5 that tens of thousands of dollars has been stolen from their Truist accounts.
"I would’ve never thought that our money could just disappear, but it has," Hagen said.
She said it was back in October when she and her husband realized they were locked out of their online BB&T banking account. BB&T has merged with Suntrust to become Truist. Hagen said when she had no luck calling the fraud department, she went to her local bank branch.
"A teller informed me that my entire bank account had been drained," she said. "That was one of the worst moments of my life. Because everything I had worked for the past 12 years didn’t matter."
Like others FOX 5 has spoken to, Hagen said the cash was stolen through multiple wire transfers. Hagen said she contacted local police, the FBI, regulatory agencies, all the while expecting her money was protected, and she’d get it back.
When that didn’t happen, she decided to file a lawsuit against the bank.
Hagen’s attorney Pat McNichol with Kelly Guzzo, PLC said in a statement:
"Truist is aware that its online banking service is being used to carry out rampant wire transfer fraud, yet Truist continues to pin responsibility on its customers because its customers supposedly agree to bear the risk of loss simply by using their Truist accounts. Truist is denying relief even if the customer had never before wired money and irrespective of whether the customer knew that its account had wire transfer capabilities. In reality, customers like Hidden Oasis are not agreeing to shoulder losses caused by unauthorized wire transfers, and Truist should not be able to evade responsibility on that basis. We’re hopeful that Hidden Oasis’s lawsuit brings to light the deficiencies in Truist’s legal position and its online banking security."
Hagen’s lawsuit argues she never used wire transfer before the fraud and therefore never agreed to the bank’s policies on wire transfers.
It’s a case other Truist fraud victims are watching closely.
FOX 5’s Lindsay Watts has spoken to a Prince William County jewelry maker who says she lost $25,000, a Loudoun County contractor who says he’s out $116,000, a Loudoun County towing company owner who says she and her husband had $30,000 stolen and an auto dealer in Luray who said he lost $27,000. All of those cases are in Virginia and all but one person said the money was stolen through wire fraud.
Those small business owners reached out following our first story about longtime Adams Morgan bar and restaurant owners who said they are fighting to recoup $230,000. The owners of Johnny Pistolas said hackers attempted to steal $460,000 from their business accounts just before the new year. They said the bank was able to stop half of the transfers.
In response, a Truist spokesperson has maintained the bank takes instances of fraud seriously and acknowledges fraud investigations are done on a case by case basis. The bank says it can’t comment on individual clients.
Hagen said there needs to be accountability.
"It affects me on a personal level daily," she said. "The stress that it has put on my family is irreconcilable."
In addition to contacting Truist, FOX 5 has reached out to members of Congress and the FDIC to ask what can be done and what, if any, recourse people have.
Hagen’s case has been moved to federal court and there will be a scheduling hearing next week.