FRESNO, California (KGPE) – A local business owner is the latest known victim to a nationwide scheme that cost her $20,000.
Two people in Tennessee are now behind bars for spearheading the scam.
Authorities are calling it one of the most methodical scams they’ve ever seen.
“I started freaking out, I tried logging onto my accounts, I couldn’t get into anything,” Sarah Reichman, Head Over Heels salon owner, said. “None of my emails, my Venmo, My PayPal, nothing worked.”
The scheme is an elaborate one that ultimately ends with the arrest of Brandon Danley and Taryn Watson of Memphis, Tennessee, but not before they would steal half a million dollars from dozens of AT&T customers across the country.
According to an affidavit, Danley and Watson had in their possession authentic AT&T employee identification numbers.
It’s unknown how they obtained them.
Posing as employees, they were able to acquire personal information from AT&T customers.
Using that information they would call the AT&T customer service number impersonating the customer whose information they fraudulently acquired.
It was at this point they would then have control over their phone numbers, change passwords and gain access to accounts and money apps.
Reichman says throughout all of her accounts, the scammers withdrew $20,000.
“I wanted to cry,” Reichman said. “You know, I just went through this quarantine and having my business shut down for a year.”
During an already difficult time, things got a lot tougher.
“Every penny, yes every penny means everything.”
As more details in the case came in, the more upseting it was.
According to the affidavit, Danley and Watson have never worked.
There is no employment history.
“To just sit on a couch, be on a computer, and take other people’s money, it enrages me. It makes me so mad.”
A search warrant of the suspects’ residence led to the discovery of cell phones, two commercial-grade money counting machines, and evidence of money being laundered at casinos with more than 300 W-2’s for winnings.
Even after the search warrant was executed, according to the affidavit, there’s evidence Danley and Watson continued to victimize AT&T customers.
“I thought I was doing everything I could, with like the hard passwords, and things like that, I thought I was doing everything.”
But in this case, it could have happened to anyone.
One minute your money is secure in your account and the next it’s in the hands of a criminal.
The investigation is far from over.
Detectives in Memphis say there’s documentation that Brandon Danley has put in more than one million dollars in cash at a local casino since last year alone.
They believe there is still a lot more to uncover in this case.
The suspects are each being held on $2 million bonds.
Sarah Reichman says since the incident happened, most of her money has been recovered by her banks.