MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More AT&T customers from across the country are claiming a Memphis couple stole thousands of dollars from them.
For Sarah Reichman of Fresno, California, owning her own salon for the last 18 years has been a source of pride. She sat down with our Nexstar sister station in Fresno to explain how her pride recently turned into tears.
Reichman says it all started when her boyfriend got an alert that she paid him $2,600. Then, he got a text message from her number.
“It said, ‘Hey sorry didn’t mean to send you that money, can you send that money back to me,'” Reichman said.
Confused, she tried logging into her bank accounts.
“I couldn’t get into anything. None of my emails, my Venmo, my Paypal, nothing,” she said.
What Reichman didn’t know is that two people – 2,000 miles away in Memphis — had apparently hacked her accounts.
According to court documents we uncovered, earlier this year, Brandon Danley and Taryn Watson pretended they were AT&T employees and gained access to “personal information for numerous AT&T customers.”
They used that info to “impersonate the customer” and switch their number to a “new cell service provider,” giving them access to passwords for bank accounts and money apps like Cash App, PayPal, Venmo, Zelle and more.
Reichman says they logged into several of her accounts, withdrawing $20,000 in all.
“I wanted to cry. You know, I just went through this quarantine, having my business shut down for a year,” she said.
Reichman is one of several dozen victims from across the country who have come forward. So far, detectives report about a half million dollars was stolen in all.
Detectives say they expect the number to grow, because Danley apparently spent over $1 million in cash since January 2020 at Southland Casino in West Memphis.
The Better Business Bureau calls this an unusual type of identity theft scheme. Authorities are trying to figure out more about Danley and Watson.
WREG pored through court documents at the Criminal Justice Center in Memphis and learned the two are from Greenville, Mississippi. They had a home in Memphis and were arrested in 2019 for stealing a package valued at $27,000 from a UPS building.
Danley told the court he’s unemployed, while Watson stated her last job was in 2017 in retail. Both are currently being held on a $2 million bond.
Reichman said she eventually got her money back from the banks, but remains on edge.
“It makes me sick,” she said. “I thought I was doing everything I could, with like the hard passwords, and things like that, I thought I was doing everything.”
AT&T wouldn’t comment on the case, just referring us to authorities. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office declined an interview until the investigation is over.