Southwest Florida business frustrated after $250K taken from bank account

Reporter: Peter Fleischer
Published: Updated:

We use banks to keep our money safe, but what happens when it disappears without our consent?

Tiffany Allen is used to big deals that involve a lot of cash. Her family has owned RV Kountry in Fort Myers for more than 40 years, so large amounts of money come and go.

“$270,000 came out of our account,” Allen explained.

It wasn’t totally unheard of when five separate wire transfers removed more than a quarter of a million dollars from their business account on March 29 earlier this year.

But, Allen and her family never approved the withdrawals.

“You just feel a little sick to your stomach,” Allen described the moment she realized the money had been taken. “But at first, you’re like, this is fraud! They’re going to reject these wires and get our money back.”

Founded in 1981, RV Kountry has always been located in the Fort Myers area. Allen’s family used SunTrust Banks for years. Back in 2019, SunTrust merged with BB&T, forming Truist Bank.

Allen says her family chose to stick with Truist through the change, in part, because of how Truist sells its security.

“We’re going to be a stronger, bigger bank,” Allen remembered Truist claiming at the time. “We’re going to be more secure. Obviously, that wasn’t the case.”

Truist’s claims about security can be found all over its website touting “better” security and “security tech.” But that has not been the Allen family experience.

After the unapproved wires, the Allen family pieced together how the money was taken. Truist claims someone changed the security number on the RV Kountry accounts and wired the money using a foreign IP address.

Allen says Truist has had no explanation for how this all happened.

“They didn’t notice that my security phone number changed,” she lamented. “They didn’t notice that it’s a strange IP address that the wires are coming from. I didn’t even think this was real. That something like this could actually happen.”

More than five months later, Truist still has not recovered or refunded most of that money. $240,000 is still missing, which is equal to several smaller RVs being taken from the company’s lot.

Searching For Answers

“You feel like, to be robbed or take something from you, you have no control of it,” Allen described. “It makes you sick to your stomach. You feel violated.”

WINK News reached out to Truist several times for this story. Nobody agreed to speak about the Allen’s situation but after several emails, their public affairs team sent a statement saying: 

                        At Truist, protecting our clients and their accounts continues to be a top priority and we take any potential fraud concerns seriously. While we can’t discuss or confirm client relationships, we can share that we immediately escalated to our fraud team to look into the matter. 

                        All financial institutions across the country are experiencing escalated fraud attacks from criminals. The Federal Trade Commission recently reported that consumers lost nearly $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022, an increase of more than 30 percent over the previous year. That’s why we continue to diligently educate our clients on the current fraud schemes many consumers are facing across the industry and share resources on how they can keep their accounts and personal information safe and secure. 

Allen said it’s this type of vague communication and lack of transparency that drove them to share their experience.

“They don’t really know who we are,” Allen admitted. “We’re just another number to them.”

Since her family’s experience, Allen has discovered reports of several similar stories from other Truist customers. A contractor in Virginia, a family estate in New York and several cases in the Atlanta area: Reports from all over the country with different types of bank accounts, that have all suffered large losses.

“Truist should stand behind its customers,” Allen claimed. “That’s their job. That’s why we put our money in the banks.”

WINK News Investigative Reporter Peter Fleischer reached out to Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis half a dozen times before his staff directed WINK to the Office of Financial Regulation. Fleischer then reached out to their Director of Communications Katie Norris another five times, but she has never responded to requests for an interview or more information.  

Answers – and accountability – have been difficult to find.

Luckily, RV Kountry has been able to drive their business through this nightmare despite a lack of answers from Truist.

“It’s sad to think this could take a business completely out of business,” Allen considered. “Then you’re putting 20 families without a job.”

Others might not be so fortunate.

If you or someone you know has dealt with a similar situation, you can reach out to Peter at:

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