An anonymous reader writes: My friend called last night and recounted a peculiar tale. For six months now there have been automated transfers happening to his checking account that "disappeared", yet he'd never authorized any automated payments, ever. He was puzzling over his discrepant account balance and went to his bank, engaging the fraud department to help him. He showed them that there were three currently pending transactions, two for $18.95 followed by one transaction where he was refunded $18.95. While they were looking at his account information all three transactions seemingly evaporated and the balance was now $18.95 less. The only proof the banker had that these transactions ever existed was that he had seen them himself. Puddling through archived data they were able to see that these triplet transactions had been ongoing for six months, but they didn't appear in any normal views of the account, they were only found by searching past records and specifically looking for them. The only information available from the records was an 800 number of a company my friend had never heard of.
The bank covered the losses and his money is moving to another account so he is, for the moment, okay.
So, it occurs to me that someone knows of a bug in the banks software. When two debit transactions and one credit transaction are done quickly the money is moved to and fro but the one 'refund' makes both charges fall off the monthly statement. This seems reminiscent of the "half cents" sort of scam, if these knotheads are dinging hundreds of accounts for petty amounts like this, they stand to rake in a ton. I assume that if the refund transaction happens quickly enough that the code sees it as some sort of merchant error and then goes to clear the whole transaction out, and in doing so it sweeps by merchant info and snags both earlier debits. The money actually moving out of the account seems to counter that logic, though.
I'm concerned that since the amount involved was chump change and the complaining customer has gone away, the bank is going to let this go and we will all remain vulnerable until it becomes so frequent that they can no longer ignore it. Naturally I've been nosing around the net looking for anything similar, but haven't encountered anything close to what my friend described. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Has anyone heard of a scam like this? You do reconcile your accounts reasonably frequently, I trust?