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Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center scammed out of over $12,000

Posted at 10:11 PM, Mar 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-22 23:28:36-04

A local non-profit is scammed out of more than $12,000 after it became the victim of online bank fraud. As staff at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center work to recover from the setback, they want to keep others from going through the same thing.

It was a routine check of charges that raised red flags.

“On March the 7th, somebody had taken out $3,000. On March 8th, they took out $5,000, and on March 12, they took out $4,200,” Dr. Lesa Thomas, executive director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center, said.

She told KRIS 6 News the money came out of the non-profit’s operating account and went onto an out-of-state credit card. However, it didn’t stay there for long. The scammer then made a batch transfer and sent the funds to another bank account.

Thomas said it’s unclear where the money was sent and how the perpetrator got the center’s account information.

Describing her reaction to the non-profit becoming a fraud target, she said, “Shocked. I never expected it to happen.”

Dr. Thomas says she’s confident that the center will recover the funds that were taken because of protective measures they already had set up with their bank. She’s now encouraging other non-profits and businesses to take similar steps so that they don’t become victims.”

One of her recommendations is to set a maximum limit for debit transactions on your accounts.

“i think that would’ve helped. if we would’ve had a $2,000 limit on ACH debits, this wouldn’t have happened,” Thomas said.

Other tips from the National Automated Clearing House Association include reviewing accounts frequently, initiating payments using dual controls, and never providing password, username or account information when contacted.

Despite the setback, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center has funds to continue providing its many sign language and interpreting services in 23 South Texas counties.

“I feel that we’re in a very good position and we’ll make it through.”

Police are investigating the fraud. Because of it, the center cannot accept donations online. hey can be mailed or dropped off in person at 5151 McArdle Road.

Meantime, Thomas says staff plans on changing the center’s bank account number and putting other financial safeguards in place.