Hackers steal over $400,000 from Adams Morgan restaurant owners
WASHINGTON - Longtime business owners in Adams Morgan said thieves wiped out their business bank accounts, and months later, they’re still fighting to retrieve over $200,000.
Jonathan Askarinam’s family owns Johnny Pistolas on 18th Street. He said it was just before New Year’s Eve when fraudsters gained access to five of their accounts.
"Imagine it’s New Year’s Eve, your biggest night of the year, and you have no money to pay for the liquor that’s coming that day, no money to pay for payroll for your employees who are supposed to get paid," Askarinam said. "What do you do? You have to react. We took money from our own accounts."
According to banking records provided to FOX 5, the money was stolen via multiple large wire transfers online. Askarinam said the family still doesn’t know how it happened, and initially, the thieves attempted to take $460,000.
"My dad is 82 years old," Askarinam said. "Imagine a guy working his whole entire life, and he loses that amount of money."
SUBSCRIBE TO FOX 5 DC ON YOUTUBE
Their bank at the time was BB&T which soon after merged with Suntrust to become Truist. Askarinam said it’s incomprehensible that they received no alerts from the bank when the suspicious wire transfers started going through.
"In between the eight hours, there were about 25 wire transactions that were performed," he said.
Askarinam said it was his family who caught it and contacted the bank, and as a result, the bank was able to get about $230,000 back. But that leaves another $230,000 still gone.
A Truist spokesperson says the bank can’t speak about client matters.
An emailed statement reads in part: "We’re committed to educating our clients on how to keep their accounts and personal information safe and secure to help prevent fraud."
Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather
Johnny Pistolas owner Soleiman Askarinam said he expected his money to be safe in the bank. He said he’s owned businesses in Adam’s Morgan for over 40 years including Spaghetti Garden and Brass Monkey.
"They should protect our money anyway," he said.
The family filed a police report with D.C. police and say they contacted the FBI as well.
They provided a letter from the bank that says the investigation is over now.
The Askarinams said they’re now considering possible legal action.