Metro woman taken for $1.5M in scheme that targets the elderly and their retirement accounts

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has learned about big money schemes targeting the elderly, and the crooks are after a massive payday.

They are targeting retirement accounts and making off with six- and seven-figure paydays.

Families who Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray spoke with said they are not just angry at the criminals. There are also a lot of questions about the banks’ role in this.

For one 78-year-old widow, multiple withdrawals from her account added up to more than $1.5 million that her family said was not flagged or stopped by anyone or any system at Regions Bank.

“It was a $250,000 transaction, a $300,000 transaction and almost a $500,000 transaction. These are life savings (numbers),” the widow’s son said, who asked not to be identified.

All of it gone in a matter of days.

Her son said it started when scammers targeted her with a pop-up on her iPad, warning her that her accounts had been compromised.

“You know, technology is a little bit of a blind spot for her,” the son said.

By the time family found out what was happening, the crooks had convinced her to go to Regents Bank repeatedly for a series of large withdrawals and deposits.

Bank transfer notifications show all her decades of savings was sent to overseas bank accounts and a cryptocurrency account.

Her family said that never during any of these trips to the bank, any of the major deposits or withdrawals, did any person or any system at Regions Bank flag this activity as suspicious.


“I’ve deposited checks for $500, and there’s a hold on them for two or three days,” the son said.

We’ve reported in recent months about the opposite problem -- big banks locking up customers’ accounts for fraud that never actually happened.

Those complaints have been flooding into our Consumer Action Center.

“You’re not getting it in that way, and then you’re not getting the protection when you are the victim. You are not the person involved in the transaction,” said Lori Silverman with the Consumer Action Center.

Regions Bank will not comment on the specific case, but it sent Gray a statement, saying:

“We have clear protocols for handling suspicious transactions, including questions we routinely ask in response to customers’ requests. If an online scammer, or anyone else, is pressuring you to transfer money, alert your bank and law enforcement, and be sure to provide us with complete details. We take fraud prevention very seriously.”

“We’re talking in two weeks, this money went into Regions Bank and out of Regions Bank, and there was zero due diligence, essentially,” the son said.

Just as Gray was finishing up the interview with that family, he got another call about essentially the same thing happening with another elderly woman.

She was taken for $500,000. But someone at her bank, Truist, stepped in before they got to another account.

Gray contacted the FBI, who said any crime like this one should be reported at their IC3 site online.