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A warning after a woman loses $1,300 in online bank scam

A work-from-home customer service agent trying to build her credit was contacted by a fraudster claiming to be with Chime Financial.

HOUSTON — Online banks and financial institutions like Chime are exploding in popularity these days.

They offer lower fees than traditional banks, and it is all in the palm of your hand. Except they come with some downsides, one being they are a popular target for scammers.

Sonya Houston is a work-from-home customer service agent who wanted to build her credit. So she signed up with Chime, a financial tech company that works like a bank.

"I heard it was for credit building, without having to apply for a credit card," she said.

It was great until she got a call from a man named "Adam," who claimed he was with Chime and found possible fraud in her account. She followed his instructions for opening up and checking her account.

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Except "Adam" was really a scammer, and before she knew it, he transferred hundreds of dollars out of her account.

"They took it straight out of there, look at that," she said, pointing to a series of withdrawals on her phone screen. 

Her whole paycheck was gone.

"I had $1,395 taken out of my account," she said. "It was transferred to an email address I don't even know about."

Chime is a legitimate company with several million customers and many people are happy with its app. Chime has lower fees than traditional banks and your money is FDIC insured through its partner banks. The problem is, it has no local branches and it offers no loans or joint accounts.

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Chime Financial also has over 7,000 Better Business Bureau Complaints, many claiming scammers drained their funds.

A Chime spokesperson said, "We take these matters very seriously and have conducted another investigation. Based on our findings, however, we stand by our original decision and our team has notified the member directly. While we’re confident we've made the correct decision, we're not able to share additional information to protect the privacy of our members."

The bottom line is that the site will not reimburse Houston for her lost funds.

Chime has an extensive scam warning page on its site, showing the warning signs of a Chime impersonator who may target you. It says to be suspicious of any text, call, or email claiming to be from Chime, and says Chime will never contact you to ask for your Social Security Number or Chime account number.

Online banks like Chime can be safe, but you need to be especially on guard for scammers, so you don't waste your money.

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