CHICAGO (CBS) — An elderly couple received a massive credit card bill, totaling nearly $12,000, but the bank didn’t believe them when they said they were victims of fraud.
Synchrony Bank insisted John and Estella Armendariz went on a wild spending spree, racking up more than 60 transactions at Chicago area Walmart stores.
Scammers hit their Montgomery Ward credit account this fall. They fought the fraud and won.
“That’s what prompted us to go over other bills,” Estella said.
It also prompted a bigger financial headache.
“I’ve had so much stress, I can’t even sleep at night,” she said.
Estella said, initially, she didn’t notice the outrageous sum of $11,997,27 on her July bill on the MasterCard account in her husband’s name. He’d fallen sick, so the distracted family made a minimum payment and moved on.
But later scrolling past mundane household items like Pepsi and mixed greens, Estella also noticed puzzling purchases, such as laptop computers and TVs. Estella said her husband’s card also was purchased for things like cocoa butter and hair dryers, which her husband doesn’t use.
The bill also showed 21 cash advances made in just two weeks; at $100 apiece.
Estella wondered how the bank could think those charges were legitimate.
“And they never called,” she said.
John Armendariz, the man who supposedly went wild at Walmart – though his account had been dormant for months before that – is currently in a rehab facility, bound to a wheelchair.
“An 83-year-old man does not need that much food and televisions, different kinds of televisions,” Estella said.
Synchrony Bank didn’t buy the couple’s argument. The company handles financing for Sam’s Club and Walmart.
In a letter to John, the bank said “you have accepted responsibility for the charges. The purchased item(s) were shipped to your address. You authorized, participated in, or benefitted from the purchase. Payments have been made by you on this account.”
But Estella said her check wrote the bank a $120 check for the minimum payment due on the July bill without realizing John hadn’t made all the purchases listed on the bill.
Estella told the bank the payment was made in error, but with no forgiveness the overdue bill now comes to $12,045.84 because of interest.
“Now I’m coming to you for help,” she said.
Synchrony Bank refused to answer any questions from CBS 2, instead saying, “we take customer satisfaction very seriously.”
Does that mean forcing an elderly man to pay $12,000 for purchases he didn’t make?
Synchrony hinted at a resolution, but wouldn’t say what it is.
The couple isn’t sure what’s happening either.
Walmart also blew off questions about the company’s fraud protection.