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Identity thieves preying on Charlotteans on social media

Identity thieves are increasingly convincing Charlotte-area consumers to provide their bank account and PIN information, resulting in more than $1 million in losses in the past year, local and federal authorities said on Tuesday.

Several hundred consumers in the region have been preyed on by the thieves, who pose as bank employees and contact victims through social media and text messaging, CMPD Det. Andy Curlee said at a press conference Tuesday.

In a usual case, Curlee said, a thief finds a victim through social media or texts them as a friend of a friend. The thief might convince the victim to meet in person, he said.

Pretending to work for a bank, the thief then encourages the victim to share his or her banking information. The thief then steals money directly from the victim’s account or deposits forged checks, immediately withdrawing anywhere from $500 to $10,000, investigators said.

“Most people getting taken are desperate,” Curlee said. “They might be searching for a loan and they want to believe.”

Curlee said that he couldn’t put a number on the amount of people involved in what he described as a multi-level crime ring.

At the press conference, police released the name of one person they believe has ties to the financial crimes.

Yarral Ameer Wilson, 26, has been charged with obtaining property under a false pretense and two counts of financial fraud, according to the Mecklenburg Sheriff’s Office.

“The main purpose today is to warn consumers,” Sgt. Walter Bowling of the CMPD’s financial crimes unit said. “Do not give out your debit card and PIN numbers.”

Burley: 704-358-5085

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