LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A Las Vegas family says their unemployment troubles were made worse after they found out someone got a hold of the debit card and went on a wild shopping spree.
Dylan Trowbridge says the trouble started on March 15 when he was let go from his job at the Bellagio where he stocked and serviced vending machines for the previous 7 years.
"It was just shocking, how you work so hard at the casino doesn't really seem like they care about you," said Trowbridge.
Trowbridge found himself like thousands of other Nevadans: filing for unemployment benefits while looking for work.
His wife also is without work and the couple is supporting their three children ranging in age from 4 years to 4 months.
Trowbridge's unemployment claim was accepted and then he waited for his debit card with his cash benefits to be issued.
"They said give it 5 to 10 business days and that's when your card should come," said Trowbridge.
Nevada unemployment benefits are loaded onto debit cards issued by Bank of America.
Trowbridge says after waiting the 10 business days, he called Bank of America to find out where his debit card was located.
"The guy from Bank of America unemployment department said 'your card is active and somebody used your card last week," said Trowbridge.
13 Investigates obtained a copy of the transaction log which reflected an account inquiry via an ATM on Craig Road in Las Vegas, followed by a large cash withdrawal, back to back purchases at the same convenience store, a car wash and food from McDonald's.
"I was just shocked, I couldn't believe it was that easy for anybody to get a card and to just activate it and use it anywhere," said Trowbridge.
Trowbridge denied using the card and Bank of America launched an investigation.
Around the same time the missing unemployment card was replenished with new unemployment cash and the spending spree continued.
Transaction records show someone booked an Air BnB for more than $200 dollars followed by some online shopping, more car washes and more meals and McDonald's.
Days later, Bank of America sent Trowbridge a letter indicating the transactions has been authorized and appropriately applied to his account.
His claim was considered closed.
"They pretty much told me, this was on you, you are on your own, get the cops involved," said Trowbridge.
Another twist came when something unexpected showed up in the mailbox.
A postal carrier brought a plastic bag containing the unemployment debit card materials.
The card was missing but the bag described the package 'was damaged during handling' and the United States Postal Service regretted the incident.
Trowbridge's soon-to-be father-in-law caught up with the letter carrier to ask his own questions while the interaction was recorded.
In the recording provided to 13 Investigates, the letter carrier says the damaged item was found among the other letters and parcels for delivery and he alerted his manager.
According to the letter carrier, the postal manager explained she was going to alert the post master and the postal inspector to investigate because there appeared to he other, similar occurrences.
13 Investigates contacted the Office of The Inspector General for the Postal Service and a spokesperson says authorities have launched an investigation.
No timeline was provided as to when the investigation would be complete.
13 Investigates reached out to Bank of America and within hours the company had provided Trowbridge a conditional credit for the missing money while their investigators took a second look at the situation.
While Trowbridge waits for the final decision he wonders about how secure the entire process is, noting it took three attempts to receive a debit card through the mail.
"Anyone that gets the card, all you do is, if you have it there, punch in the card number and create a pin by phone, it doesn't ask any security questions at all," explained Trowbridge.
13 Investigates asked how many other cards could be impacted or stolen and authorities say they are looking into the situation.
Bank of America released a statement to 13 Investigates:
We take all reports of fraud very seriously. We would remind all cardholders to monitor their transaction history online or via the mobile app and notify us immediately if they see any unauthorized activity on their cards. We also ask cardholders to be vigilant and avoid attempts to steal personal information through fraudulent emails or telephone calls.
Authorities recommend if an unemployment debit card has not arrived within the expected delivery window to contact Bank of America as soon as possible.