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Zelle’s Dark Side: $456 Million in Fraud Uncovered

EDITOR'S NOTES

In 2022, customers of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo lost a shocking $456 million to scams on the Zelle payment network. The banks, entrusted with protecting their clients, have utterly failed. Senator Richard Blumenthal’s investigation exposes Zelle’s ugly truth: its so-called “secure” transfers are quick, irreversible, and perfect for fraud. Despite claims of safety, 13% of users end up victims. This failure is a betrayal of trust by banks that should know better. The security Zelle offers is an illusion, and it leaves countless customers unprotected and out of pocket.

JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo are failing to protect customers from hundreds of millions of dollars in scams and fraud per year, according to a US Senate panel.

At a hearing held by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Democratic Senator and Chairman Richard Blumenthal said the banking giants’ customers submitted claims to recover $456 million in 2022 – all due to fraud and scams on the payments network Zelle.

“The banks of America have a dirty little secret. It’s called Zelle… 

Zelle markets itself as ‘A fast and easy way to send and receive money.’ But, as this Committee has found, a fast and easy way to lose money is often what happens on Zelle.”

Senator Blumenthal says Zelle – a network owned by seven US banks including Chase, BofA and Wells Fargo – creates a veil of security while leaving customers far too vulnerable to fraud.

“Zelle transfers are nearly instant and irreversible, and by the time a consumer knows they’ve been scammed, usually it’s too late to do anything about it – at least according to Zelle and according to the banks that own, control, and in effect operate Zelle…

Zelle and the banks that own it offer to customers the appearance of the trust they feel they deserve. But the risks there are real and present, and they simply are failing to protect consumers in the way that they deserve.”

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that of the $456 million customers reported lost to Zelle scams in 2022, $341 million was repaid. According to the panel, 13% of users on Zelle and other peer-to-peer payment platforms report sending money to someone and later realizing it was a scam.

In response to the Senate panel’s inquiry, Zelle released a statement via its parent company, Early Warning Services, LLC.

“Providing a safe and reliable service to consumers is the top priority of Early Warning Services, LLC, the network operator of Zelle, and our 2,100 participating banks and credit unions.

As a result of our continued efforts to build on Zelle’s strong foundation of security, less than one-tenth of one percent (.1%) of transactions are reported as fraud or scams, making Zelle one of the safest ways for consumers to pay people they know and trust. Zelle is also currently generally free for most consumers.”

This article originally appeared on the Daily Hodl

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