More local business owners report money stolen from Truist accounts

Small business owners continue to come forward with claims they’ve had tens of thousands of dollars stolen from their Truist bank accounts.

FOX 5 has spoken to owners of an Adams Morgan bar and restaurant who say they lost $230,000, a Prince William County jewelry maker who says she lost $25,000, and a Loudoun County contractor who says he’s out $116,000. 

Rebecca Downie, also of Loudoun County, said she can’t believe how many people have been impacted, including her and her husband. Downie said on Jan. 4, she got a call from a woman pretending to work for Truist who said there was fraud on the couple’s business account. Downie said the number on the caller ID indicated it was really the bank.

"She asked me some questions and from there was able to gain access to all of our banking, basically," Downie said.

She said she checked her account an hour later and nearly $30,000 had been stolen by wire transfer. She said just $.98 was left in the account for their Leesburg towing business, Amberline Towing.

"We thought since we had caught that it happened so quickly, within an hour of it happening, we thought our money was protected, and we thought that we would get all of that money back," Downie said.

Hackers steal over $400,000 from Adams Morgan restaurant owners

An email she provided from a Truist supervisor says he’s "so sorry" this happened and advises her to work with the bank’s fraud department. 

Downie said Truist has since told her the money can’t be retrieved. She said it may force her and her husband out of business.

"We are a very small business and because of this, we are not in business at the moment," she said. "It’s a big question mark if we will be able to recover and continue our business. It has impacted us greatly."

On that same day in January, a man in Luray, Virginia tells FOX 5 it happened to him too. 

Charles Spain said $27,000 was stolen by wire transfer from his auto sales business account. Spain has retained an attorney who said he still hasn’t gotten a response to a letter sent to Truist demanding the money be refunded. 

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

In Fairfax County, a salon owner has filed a lawsuit, saying in October, $60,000 was stolen by wire transfer from her account. 

All of the fraud occurred around the time BB&T was merging with Suntrust to become Truist. 

Financial adviser Chase Lopez with ILG Financial said wire fraud has become more common as scammers become more sophisticated. He said banks don’t have an obligation to return your money when there’s fraud, but there are cases where you’re more likely to get it back, like if someone steals your debit or credit card information. 

"It would be a lot easier for the bank to recoup that," Lopez said. 

He said wire fraud is different.

"Once that money is gone and once it’s gone through what we call, really the plumbing of the system, once it gets through there and goes to that beneficiary bank, there’s really not much the sending bank can do at that juncture," Lopez said.

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Truist said they cannot speak about client matters and maintains there are no broad-based issues related to fraud due to the merger.

Information Truist has posted online regarding reporting fraud states that if a customer identifies a fraudulent transaction, provisional credit will be applied and made permanent if fraud is confirmed. 

When asked for clarity on the policy, Truist spokeswoman Shelley Miller said the bank "works with our clients who have experienced fraud on a case-by-case basis."

An emailed statement goes on to say: "Truist takes instances of fraud very seriously, and we go to great lengths to detect and prevent fraud. We have multiple layers of safeguards to protect consumers from fraud, including providing prompts within the user experience to help clients identify red flags that may indicate scams."

While Downie said she got called by a scammer, the other business owners have said they have no idea how someone got their banking information.

FOX 5 will continue to investigate this story. 

Email Reporter Lindsay Watts at if you have been a victim.