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I've been talking to this gentleman online who wanted me to open a bank account. So I did. He deposited money into my account and then transferred some out and deposited again. I tried to transfer some of the money, this is only an online savings account that's it that's all they offer.

When I tried to transfer some money out they froze the account. I contacted the bank and got it unfroze late afternoon, but by the next morning it was frozen again.

The bank calls and said because I was not the owner of the money that was deposited in the account, and that I have no right to the money.

And now I get an email saying that $19,000 was transferred out to somewhere they don't know where. I did not authorize it. and they don't know who, but I'm $5,000 overdrawn.

What do I do? Do I get an attorney? Do I let it go. Do I have rights to that money because it was in my account in my name?

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    What bank did you open that account at? It matters hugely if this is an actual, real bank, or a fake one. Please add this information to your question.
    – marcelm
    Nov 26, 2023 at 10:06
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    Yes. You get an attorney. Not to get any money back, that's futile, but to save your bacon in case the police comes after you. Out of sheer ignorance and gullibility, you probably became part of a money laundering scheme that's illegal. Do what you can to ensure that you're considered just a victim, not a perpetrator. The very first step would be to contact the police yourself and report the circumstances. (Needless to say, you'll probably learn from this case that there's no such thing as "a gentleman out of the blue wanting to gift you money." Ever.)
    – Gábor
    Nov 26, 2023 at 12:18
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    @Gábor I agree with almost everything in your comment except "the very first step would be to contact the police yourself." I would very strongly recommend the "talk to a lawyer" step before that one.
    – reirab
    Nov 26, 2023 at 20:40
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    After "wanted me to open a bank account. So I did. " you had me thinking "scammed". Nov 27, 2023 at 5:55
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    Have you asked the bank how someone else was able to transfer money out of your personal account without your authorisation or involvement?
    – Lawrence
    Nov 27, 2023 at 14:32

4 Answers 4

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I'm afraid to say you've been scammed. The "gentleman" may not even be one person, but a team of people operating from a call centre type arrangement.

If the account was with a legitimate real genuine bank, the money deposited into it came from another scam victim's account and so no, you have no right to it. In this case, you should talk to an attorney to make sure you're properly protected as a victim of crime and not as an accomplice.

If the bank is itself fake, which seems plausible from what you said, then the money was never real in the first place and the "bank" (scammer) is trying to get you to pay $5000 to them to cover your "overdraft".

Either way, cut off all contact with the "gentleman" and report to your local law enforcement authorities. Any of your own money that you have already put into this account or sent to the scammers should be considered gone.

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    @LisaSimms If you opened an account with a real bank, the money that was transfered in was e.g. stolen or a fake check, and it will usually be reversed. The money you transfered out was authorized by you, so it will not be returned, and you owe it to the bank. That (or at least the 5000 overdraft) is what was was taken from you. You might need a lawyer for a small chance to fix it. If you are lucky, and it was a fake bank, nothing happened yet, but they want you to transfer the 5000 (but it sounds less likely from your description).
    – Solarflare
    Nov 24, 2023 at 13:44
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    Either it's real money in a real bank in which case you've been used as a mule and the scammer has kept his hands clean by performing all the transactions from your account, or it's fake money and a fake bank in which case they're going to try to get you to pay fees and charges etc etc etc. Either way, you do not have the rights to that money. I'm sorry this is probably upsetting to learn, especially if this gentleman had been posing as a friend or lover.
    – Vicky
    Nov 24, 2023 at 15:15
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    When you say "I haven't transferred anything out" - in your question, you say "He deposited money into my account and then transferred some out and deposited again." Any transfers out that "he" made, are treated as though "you" made them because they were your account and therefore your authorisation. If this is real money in a real bank.
    – Vicky
    Nov 24, 2023 at 15:16
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    It definitely has the hallmarks of a scam, just to add another vote to convince you. Do not trust random people online to open, use, or manipulate a bank account. Further, avoid the greed factor they play on. I’m assuming you were meant to gain by the “glitches” he supposedly uses. Nov 24, 2023 at 15:18
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    @LisaSimms I'm sorry, but people don't make money on "glitches" and then share that money with others. That's 100% a scam. Nov 25, 2023 at 13:04
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Do I have rights to that money because it was in my account in my name?

You are asking the wrong question. If the account was real, and you helped move money into and out of the account, then the authorities will be asking if you are responsible for the fraud related to those funds.

Creating an account for somebody, and then giving them the ability to move money into and out of the account is a sign that they are using it for illegal purposes. They need somebody else to be the face of the transactions.

If the account is real, the negative balance on the account means there is nothing for you to keep.

Talk to the police in your jurisdiction. I would start there because it is possible that the bank isn't real and calling the number on the webpage is just a call to the scammers organization.

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Don't be sure "nothing has been taken from you." Odds are that the check they wrote will not clear, but yours will, and you have just lost however much your check was for.

Or the incoming payment was stolen money, you were used to "launder" it, and you are now legally liable; if the police trace this transaction, then if you are lucky you will lose it all; you may also be subject to criminal charges.

Or both.

If a deal looks too good to be true, that's almost always because it isn't true.

And as others have said, "makes money on glitches" is a classic "if you believe this, you're a sucker" case. Even if it were true, why would they want to share any part of it with you?

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My guess would be: Probably transferring money from scam, hack or fraud victims to a safe harbor inaccessible to claims from the jurisdiction you reside in (so it is potentially/probably not "classical" money laundering, but who knows). This is the typical modus operandi of the "I have a business and you are our local representative/business manager scam".

Money is coming from victims accounts (e.g. fraudulent online sales, credit card theft) to your account and money is transferred out from your account. If you happen to be the person residing in jurisdiction of your home country and the scammer is somewhere else, the victims damage claims may be primarily against you. Since it doesn't cost them anything (which is different from classical money laundering, which aims to make money appearing to come from legitimate sources - here the loss of an account meas loosing money) to scam people they use the accounts of people like you until they are locked.

Just loosing some money which you actually had in the account is kind of a best-case scenario, so seek legal help immediately.

It also could be that they hacked you (by social engineering) and gained access to you computer in other to authorize transfers without your consent. You may want to turn off your computer which you uses in order to provide potential evidence.

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