Stolen funds returned to disabled Navy veteran

Published: Feb. 19, 2020 at 11:52 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Stolen funds have been returned to a disabled Navy veteran after calling 12 On Your Side.

Ken Bullock says someone stole his Supplemental Security Income benefits card and spent the money, but he was unable to get the card company to believe him.

Bullock says someone wiped out more than $500 of his S.S.I. benefits. His monthly payments are placed on a debit card through Direct Express Mastercard as recommended by the Social Security Administration.

Ken has post traumatic stress disorder, a mental health condition that includes anxiety so severe it can disrupt a person’s ability to focus. But for seven months, Bullock was laser focused on getting his S.S.I. benefits back.

He says he shopped at a neighborhood store and maybe dropped his card on the walk home or he could have left it in the store. Either way, someone got their hands on it.

He says the fraudulent charges occurred July 11-12 of 2019. Bullock says he called Direct Express Mastercard the moment he realized his card was missing and was told the money would be placed in his account immediately and they would investigate 18-20 transactions in less than 24-hours at various stores from Walgreen’s, McDonald’s, Citi Trends and TJ Nails to the Cash and Carry Market.

Time passed and no refund came. So Bullock called the card company and heard more bad news.

“I was told they had dropped the case and would not reinstate the money back into my account. Having to swallow 550 bucks out of one monthly benefits, I certainly would not wish that on anybody,” Bullock said

Direct Express Mastercard told Bullock in a letter they “found a conflict in information” he provided and their research. So, they “can not confirm a fraud occurred.” He says they told him he could contact the stores himself.

"The local police were involved and I think it was pretty apparent that it was fraud. It was a backbreaker, the whole process. Everyday I seemed to have gotten more exacerbated, the more I talked to the card company, the less I know,” Bullock said.

The Social Security Administration stayed neutral and did not advocate for him.

Bullock said he called 12 On Your Side for help just as he was ready to give up the fight.

12 On Your Side Investigator, Diane Walker got Bullock’s benefits of $575 back after she spent several days of calling and emailing both the Social Security Administration and Direct Express MasterCard and got the two talking.

Direct Express Mastercard emailed a statement saying that due to privacy laws, they can’t talk about Bullock’s case but says it “is continually working to improve card security with additional layers of protection.”

“Contact 12 On Your Side. We are blessed to have such an entity in our city and it’s something to be proud of. It’s exhilarating. It feels as though we snatched the victory from the devil. I’m elated,” Bullock said.

To protect yourself from card fraud, Direct Express Mastercard says watch out for unusual transactions, report unauthorized transactions immediately, report lost or stolen cards immediately and keep your pin number safe.

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