SWIFT Recall Disappointment

As a victim of a romance scam, do not think USAA has your back or will be your advocate. I was duped into believing USAA would have my back but they don't. I reported that I had been a victim of a romance scam and sent two wire transfers using USAA Wire Transfer Services. Prior to making the initial wire transfer, I contacted the receiving bank to confirm that it was a legitimate account with said name. I even asked the receiving bank the address of the individual on the account, but due to privacy issues, they would not confirm/deny the address of the account that was provided. Hence, I continued with my two wire transfers. Had I been given the information of the address of the receiving account, I would have never made the wire transfer and sent the funds. Nonetheless, it happened. 


I contacted USAA Fraud Division on May 10 after it was determined that I had been duped into wiring funds to a money mule. This greatly upset me and immediately reported the romance scam to USAA. The representative Ayesha requested that I fax to her the police report number. I told her I don't have a fax and lived in a rural area. She was completely naive to inform me of the proper protocol to immediately advise me to request a SWIFT recall on my two wire transfers. I lost valuable time with her incompetence wanting me to submit via facsimile a police report number. Later that night, I performed research on the internet through an informed website about money scams and the site encouraged me to contact the bank to request a SWIFT recall (wire transfer recall). The website encouraged me to do this ASAP because time is critical when requesting a SWIFT recall and at each bank where the money was transferred; however, because of USAA's negligence in providing this customer with the proper advice, I lost critical time in requesting the SWIFT recall. I ended up contacting the Wire Transfer Department on May 11 to immediately request the SWIFT recall on both wire transfers that I had made. I also reached out to the receiving bank, but that was a waste of time. The receiving bank, Sun Trust Bank now Truist, was absolutely worthless in helping me go after the perpetrator's account. They did not do anything to stop the money mule or to help me other than to encourage me to start with my originating bank USAA to file the SWIFT recall. I am very disappointed in how USAA handled this matter. I felt I was being proactive in reporting the fraudulent activity, but no one from USAA was my advocate to get the funds back into my account. I was contacted by their fraud department and spoke with a person named Luis. Luis encouraged me to contact him by calling him back but left me no extension number to call him back. I tried multiple times to contact Luis at 800-531-8722 in their fraud department but to no avail. I continued to get stonewalled by the high number of transfers from one customer service representative to another. It was as if no one cared. I have been a USAA member since 1991 and USAA has lost its compass by supporting its original customer base: active military and veterans. I am grieved that the poor customer service I received from this bank to go after the receiving bank to return the wired funds, but to date, I have not received one call back regarding the status of the SWIFT recall.


I was eventually put in touch with Luis, but he came across as incompetent and more or less said nonchalantly that there was absolutely nothing USAA could do to return the funds. To be honest, I am not sure what Luis' function is, but he certainly was not an advocate on my behalf or cared about my financial loss. 


I spoke with Carly in the Domestic Wire Transfer Service Department on May 18 to obtain an update on the SWIFT recall, but again, she could not provide any additional information to me. She told me that all she does is wire money all day and informed me that wire transfers are not the safest means of sending money unbeknownst to me. She informed me that there is so much fraudulent activity with wire transfers that you would be better off writing a check. I was appalled that a bank representative would be sharing this information with me as I was under the impression that wiring funds were safe. Apparently, based on our conversation, they are not. I have wired little money over the years, but to have a bank agent inform me that they are not safe was mind-blowing unlike losing a written check in the mail or check washing scams. Carly tried her best to help me, but would not guarantee that someone from USAA would be reaching out to me within 72-hours as to to the status of the SWIFT recall as she described "my hands are tied." To date, I have not received any status update on my SWIFT recall and it's been since May 11th. 


To end my story, if you have wire transferred money due to a romance scam, don't expect USAA to be your advocate. They do not care or will look out for you. I admit I was negligent on my part, but USAA certainly does not look out for their customer and aggressively pursue the funds from the receiving bank. One would think that in this day and age, all you would have to do is follow the money, but apparently with all the savvy technology out there in the banking industry, one is still susceptible to fraud and the scammers continue to get away with it and no one, including those in the banking industry, do anything about it.


USAA you have really let me down with your poor customer service and the incompetent feedback that I received. It's no wonder that customers like me are looking elsewhere to find a bank where I can speak with a live person without having to go through the network of infinite press 1s, press 2s, press 3s, etc. 



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It's extremely unfortunate that you had been swindled.  Hopefully the perpetrator will eventually rot in hades.


While I am no longer a fan of USAA on the banking side, I can tell you that the truth of the matter is there is, sadly, virtually nothing that can be done.  Wire transfers carry none of the protections that credit card transactions provide.  A wire transfer is basically a cash transaction.


The SWIFT recall process you write about is only useful if the money has yet to reach the destination account.  Given that, in my experience, wire transfers arrive within an extremely short period of time -- often within minutes -- the wire recall would have probably failed.  Within -- at the very most -- 1/2 hour of you wiring the funds, the felon had the money in their account and probably overseas in a bank in Africa or Eastern Europe.  I wish it weren't so, but that money was long gone and totally irretrievable within minutes after you sent it.


What can you do now?  I would notify federal and local law enforcement and file a criminal complaint.  The perpetrator likely had assistance from someone within the US.  I would also contact Sun Trust's banking regulators as they probably negligently overlooked issues with the target account that could have shown that it was involved in criminal activity long ago.


Again, I feel bad that this happened to you.  Your frustrations and anger are understandable. 

I did everything I could with regards to notifying all state and federal authorities months ago. I contacted Sunwest Bank prior to and after wiring the funds. Absolutely no one helped me. The FBI has yet to process my report and provide me a report #. I contacted the FBI months ago and they said it was still being processed. I was told by local law enforcement that it takes an act of Congress to get the FBI to do anything on your behalf. They simply use your information to collect data on romance scams. They have no interest in helping the consumer with these matters. Bottom line: USAA failed to educate the consumer on protecting its funds. NEVER, EVER wire funds is the lesson I learned. You will never get the $$$$ back period. 

@RetCDRTK, we appreciate you letting us know what happened with your wire transfer.  We can understand the frustration with Scammers.  I will ensure this matter is reviewed.  

Your CEO Office contacted me in regards to this matter and began to ask me how they can help me with my credit card fraudulent charges. I informed the person calling that I did not report any fraudulent claims against my credit card and informed him that he must have contacted the wrong person regarding this matter. I informed the person from the CEO Office that I had complained about USAA having one's back when it comes a filing a SWIFT (wire) recall. Hence, he put me in contact with a person in the wire transfer department who looked further into my situation. The person explained to me that USAA was no longer able to help me to regain the funds and that the matter was closed. I said to the person why hadn't anyone from USAA contacted me regarding this matter? She couldn't answer the question. She said she was apologetic, but could not do anything for me. I believe USAA and the banking industry as a whole has a responsibility to educate their membership regarding the dangers of wiring funds to "legitimate accounts". 


I contacted the receiving bank to confirm the legitimacy of the account but was fraudulently misled by the scammer. Had I known the information was fraudulent when asking the questions from the receiving bank, I would never have errored in wiring the funds. Banks have a responsibility to their customers to give them accurate information. I was misled by both the receiving bank for not providing sufficient and accurate information and my originating bank failing me in being proactive in getting my funds back from the receiving bank.


USAA does not look out for its customers in this regard. It saddens me that in this day in age with electronic banking that the banking industry cannot "follow the money" and clearly see where the fraudulent activity is and report it to the proper authorities. They either don't care or they expect you the customer to be diligent and know the ins/outs of wire transfers.  

@Ret CDR TK, I'm sorry to hear of the outcome of your situation, and your disappointment. I can certainly understand your frustration. I've elevated your feedback to the appropriate team, as we're always working to improve our services, and the way we help safeguard our members and their finances. I appreciate you taking the time to post your follow up. ~Holland

So whatever became of the information that you relayed to the powers at be re: my SWIFT recall experience. Did they ever make any changes to the system on behalf of victims of wire fraud scams? Have they completed the investigation of the SWIFT recall? I never did receive the funds back. I guess I shouldn't have expected USAA to be in my corner on this one. It shows that banks really don't work with each other when trying to return wired funds. Imagine that.


I understand the seriousness of the situation. I have located your information and will engage a specialist to review the details. Thank you for speaking up today. - Jason