EXCLUSIVE: Local business owners report losing thousands from scams targeting Truist bank accounts

More small business owners say they’ve had thousands of dollars stolen from their Truist bank accounts following FOX 5’s reporting on an Adams Morgan bar that lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The owners of Johnny Pistolas said just before New Year’s Eve, fraudsters took $460,000 via wire transfer. They said the bank was only able to retrieve half of that, and now the case has been closed with $230,000 still gone.

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Ricky Hagenbuch, who runs a small contracting business in Loudoun County, said when he saw the story he realized he wasn’t alone.

Hagenbuch said on Dec. 31, he got a text from Truist about possible fraud on a business banking card he had replaced the month before. Then came an alert someone had set up online banking and wire transfers for his account.

"Which we had never done before," said Hagenbuch.

He said while he was on the phone with Truist customer service, the $25,000 wire transfers started.

"She said, ‘That’s impossible. We’ve got the account frozen. It must’ve been something that slipped through before the account got frozen,’" Hagenbuch said. 

He said his 17-year-old son’s account was linked to his.

"Twenty minutes later, my son calls me and says, ‘They’ve cleaned me out, dad,’" he said.

Records Hagenbuch provided show a total of five different wire transfers to different names totaling $116,000. He said Truist was able to get him back $5,000, and then he got a letter saying the bank’s investigation had concluded. It says the bank will return the money if the cash can be retrieved from the account where it was deposited.

In Prince William County, Diane Dennis said she too had a majority of her Truist account suddenly cleaned out.

"It was my income, everything for about the past three years," Dennis said.

She said someone stole over $25,000 from her Truist account in February through a direct debit. Dennis makes handmade beaded jewelry and sells it online. She said some of her custom pieces take her 30 hours to make.

"I very honestly feel like I have worked all this time for absolutely nothing," said Dennis. "And that really, really hurts."

She said she never got an alert from Truist about the massive debit. She said the bank maintains she had a contract with the person or business that debited her account. Denis said she didn’t. Both she and Hagenbuch said they’ve spent countless hours fighting for their money, and that this is about more than just dollar signs.

Hagenbuch became emotional speaking about the impact this has had on his family. He said even though the missing money was the operating capital for his business, what hurts the most is his son’s money being taken after he’d worked hard to save up.

"His words to me were, ‘I’ve been a burden to you for 16 years. It’s time for me to take care of it myself,’" he said. "And I don’t want him starting out his adult life seeing the world in this manner."


Truist’s policy indicates customers reporting fraud would be given a provisional credit that would be permanent if fraud is confirmed.

FOX 5 reached out to Truist about all there cases, and a spokesperson said the bank can’t discuss client matters.

All three of these cases happened around the time SunTrust and BB&T merged to become Truist.