‘Who can you trust?’ asks Wells Fargo user after $250k drained from account in Bank of America transfer – sign he missed

A SCAM victim has spoken exclusively to The U.S. Sun about how he lost $250,000 in just two months after putting his trust in the name of a bank.

Leonid Shteyn from Houston, Texas, lost all his retirement savings in one fell swoop at the beginning of the year.

Leonid Shteyn lost his retirement savings in a cryptocurrency scam that targeted him for two months

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Leonid Shteyn lost his retirement savings in a cryptocurrency scam that targeted him for two monthsCredit: Leonid Shteyn
The Wells Fargo customer has called on banks to take further action against fraudulent account

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The Wells Fargo customer has called on banks to take further action against fraudulent accountCredit: Getty

The 70-year-old was targeted in a cryptocurrency scam that drained his Wells Fargo account of $256,470.

The former business owner said that he missed the red flags because the fraudulent account he transferred the funds to was with Bank of America.

“If you can’t trust the Bank of America – who can you trust?” Shteyn asked.

In November 2023, Shteyn decided to explore Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, which saw him set up an account with someone claiming to be from the trading platform Nation Traders.

He set up an account and was put in contact with an analyst who helped Shteyn start trading with a test amount of $10,000.

The account was initially “active and very profitable” and resulted in “successful transactions,” Shteyn told The U.S. Sun.

However, when going it alone, he said that the “transactions were rarely successful” which increased his trust with the advisor and the platform.

A month later, Shteyn received an offer from the analyst offering him a line of credit with the platform for $308,000 that he could invest.

However, because “the platform did not have a license to offer the line of credit I had to pay off the full amount out of my pocket in order to start withdrawing,” he explained.

Other members of the company then offered to sell bitcoins to Shteyn to pay off the credit, if he was able to wire money to a Bank of America account.

‘I’m devastated,’ cries man after losing $500k to cryptocurrency site – he’s selling his house to recover from the trick

“I would never make such payments to any other bank less reputable than Bank of America,” Shteyn said.

“In my wildest dreams, I would never think that Bank of America would be involved in fraudulent activities and allow scammers to open and keep fraudulent accounts active.”

‘LIFE IS OVER’

Despite doing the wire transfers from his Wells Fargo branch and using phrases like “Buy Crypto Currency” and “Crypto Investment” when filling out the purpose-of-funds section of the transfer form, no concerns were flagged by either bank, Shteyn claimed.

He added that the fraudulent Bank of America account remained active until February 23, 2024, despite the organization not being on the IRS Business Master File for several months and having had its exempted status revoked by the IRS.

Expert Tips: Crypto Scam Red Flags

Scam expert Toby Braun, the managing partner for American Special Investigative Group and Heroya Cryptocurrency Investigations spoke exclusively to The U.S. Sun about the warning signs of crypto scams.

Beware of a “Crypto trading platform, service or fund offering unusually high returns,” he said as these “are more than likely a scam.”

Individuals who still go ahead with the investment should ensure that “professional due diligence” is carried out regarding the individual or platform.

His second tip is to “refrain from responding to personal solicitations involving cryptocurrency from an unknown source.”

This can be via any social media platform, emails, text messages, or WhatsApp.

The third red flag is being approached by people who seem to be overly friendly.

“Many scammers use deepfake technology to pretend to be someone on dating sites they are not,” Braun said.

“Once the scammers connect with their unbeknown victim who is often just looking for a real connection, they flatter them before sharing how much money they are making with crypto.

“The victim is then lured into making substantial investments, and deposit funds they’ll never see again.”

Similarly, the expert warned people away from engaging with strangers or people they have just met if they are asking for money or encouraging them to invest.

Lastly, “be aware of anything that simply sounds too good to be true. It generally never is,” he added.

Shteyn knew he had been scammed when he started making large withdrawal requests that showed on the platform as completed but never arrived in his account.

“It feels like life is over,” the former businessman said.

“I was morally and financially violated and defeated. I lost everything I worked for.

“I have no future! I have a small single-person pension in my household. No other funds or means of funds.”

“The warning signs that I missed can be a lesson to other people and especially retirees looking for investment on the trading market,” Shteyn noted.

“But if Bank of America is not responsible for controlling the legitimacy of their account holders and their account then how can common retirees and citizens stand against sophisticated scammers?” 

‘COMMON TARGET’

Scam expert Toby Braun, the managing partner for American Special Investigative Group and Heroya Cryptocurrency Investigations, spoke to The U.S. Sun in the wake of what happened the Shteyn.

“Cryptocurrency is becoming a common target for scams due to several factors related to its nature and the environment in which it operates,” he explained.

These factors include anonymity, irreversibility, hype and speculation, and a lack of understanding.

“Many people are still unfamiliar with how cryptocurrencies work, making them more vulnerable to scams,” Braun said.

“They may not understand the risks involved or how to verify the legitimacy of an investment opportunity.”

Braun noted that scammers are attracted to cryptocurrencies because of the anonymity it offers allowing them to “hide their tracks” as it becomes difficult to trace the identities behind the screen.

“Elderly people are often specifically targeted by scammers due to several vulnerabilities and characteristics that make them more susceptible to fraud,” he added.

I was morally and financially violated and defeated. I lost everything I worked for.

Leonid ShteynScam victim

These vulnerabilities include loneliness, cognitive decline, lack of technology knowledge, and perceived wealth due to retirement funds and more savings.

Speaking on why he thought he was targeted, Shteyn said, “I believe they target senior retired people with fixed limited income who were previously businessmen and were members of a business community.”

“This information is readily available on the web,” he added.

The U.S. Sun has not received a response from Nation Traders when approached about the subject.

Bank of America said that an investigation has been launched by its team and Shteyn will be contacted privately.

WELLS FARGO ADVICE

A spokesperson from Wells Fargo highlighted that banks create a financial pattern for all users and that this is personal to each customer.

For example, some people may only make an extravagant purchase like a new car or an expensive repair on a home very rarely, equally, they may have never done a wire transfer.

This is part of their stable financial pattern, as would regular wire transfers of large amounts.

When users suddenly deviate from their pattern warning signs will go off at the bank and the user will be alerted to the unusual activity.

If the bank user still goes ahead with the transfer or payment and this turns out to be fraud, the bank is unable to do anything, especially with wire transfers.

“Wiring money is literally like handing over a stack of cash. It’s very very difficult to stop it,” the Wells Fargo spokesperson warned.

As the bank user authorized the payment, in the eyes of the banks it is a valid transaction.

Wells Fargo’s SVP of Fraud Prevention Dan Cusick warns all bank users about the constant evolution of scams and the increased use of wire transfers and crypto as a method of payment.

“Wires are one of the bad actors’ favorite methods for moving money,” he explained in a video sent to The U.S. Sun.

“The reason why wires are preferred is, once the wire is sent, it’s like cash, it’s gone.

“Pay attention to how the bad actor is asking you to pay them.

“If it’s crypto or prepaid credit cards or gift cards that’s a clear red flag […] it’s very difficult to trace those things, which makes it anonymous for the bad actor.”

Shteyn said he would never have transferred the funds he had if the fraudulent account had not been with a trusted organization like Bank of America

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Shteyn said he would never have transferred the funds he had if the fraudulent account had not been with a trusted organization like Bank of AmericaCredit: Getty

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