Arrest warrant issued in scam that targeted Georgia couple's lifesavings

A Gwinnett County couple got bilked out of $49,000, a lifetime of savings. But according to the police, it only took 19 minutes to steal it. Chase Bank closed the case saying there was nothing they could do to help them. Gwinnett County police, though, did not walk away. An arrest warrant gives the retired couple hope they can get answers and money reimbursed.

Gloria Moss recalled that February day when she received two text messages. 

"They were from Chase's fraud department, that my husband's debit card had been compromised," she told us when we first met her and her husband Gary. "I know not to click the links, so I called the number."

Gloria Moss chatted with a woman, ultimately not from the bank, never offering passwords or personal information, she said. She believed she was canceling her card. In ways still unclear, she was being ripped off. But everywhere the Mosses turned for help, doors closed. A complaint to Chase Bank - case closed.  A complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - case closed. When we talked to the Buford couple in April, they were exasperated.

"Nobody is helping us. Nobody cares." Gloria said.

Chase wrote that Ms. Moss either "authorized" the transaction or she benefited from the theft, but they didn't say which was the case. But, the bank left the door open a little. 

She says a Chase case agent said if she could prove through phone records she didn't play a role in losing her money, they'd hear her out. But that was harder than it sounded. 

"The problem was, I couldn't prove it because I couldn't get a subpoena," she said. 

So in April, Gloria went to the Gwinnett County courthouse asking how to get this subpoena for her own phone records. But she discovered her February case still wasn't assigned to a detective. She got lucky. An assistant district attorney walked by, overheard her story. 

A detective soon took the case, did a forensic look at her phone records, and found an easy-to-follow path to a woman in Cypress, Texas, more than 700 miles away. On May 20, Gwinnett County issued an arrest warrant for Audrey Michelle Townsend for felony theft for stealing $49,000.

Gary Moss jumped in. 

Gloria Moss lost $49,000 in a scam. Chase Bank closed her case. But she wouldnt let it go. An arrest warrant has now been issued. 

"And she also confessed to everything by taking the money. But she's blaming it on as she was like a mule, and she was just there to get the money and give it to them. And then they gave her a percentage." 

Gwinnett County police said the 25-year-old from Texas admitted to taking the funds, said she was in a tough financial situation and needed the money. She said she was contacted by strangers on Facebook to help steal it. The Fox 5 I-Team has reached out to who we believe is Ms. Townsend through a phone call and email, but we did not hear back. 

"She was the one that actually talked to my wife over the phone," Gary added. 

The Mosses have appealed to Chase Bank to re-open their case. The big bank's website says, "If you see that money was removed from your...accounts...and you didn't authorize the transaction, let us know right away. We will reimburse you."

Chase earlier told Ms. Moss that she had approved the transactions. "We spoke with you," they wrote. She said they certainly did not. The I-Team talked to an FBI agent who speculated that AI could have been involved. But no one knows yet. And it's still case closed, according to Gloria.

"Chase has denied this four times," she told us. 

The Mosses hope the phone records will get the file reopened. But, it's up to the bank now to fill in the details of just how the scammers got into their accounts. The Mosses want the details.

"This is a new form of bank robbery. You know, instead of going into the bank with the guns blazing, you know, this is, they're going through it electronically, online, and they're stealing people's money and something needs to be done about it," Gloria said. 

The Fox 5 I-Team has reached out to Chase Bank for an updated comment on this case. We are still waiting.