McInnis assuring everyone that the situation will be looking to as he speaks in Aberdeen, North Carolina. PN Photo/ Anayah L. Peterson.

Sandhill locals fill the Aberdeen recreation center to speak about their experience with TD Bank. PN Photo/ Anayah L. Peterson.

By: Anayah L. Peterson, Managing Editor

Debra Noll of Foxfire Village was on her phone when she received a text message with a link from TD Bank on Jan. 31. She did not think anything about it and deleted the message. The scandal was unknown to her at the time until she received more mail from them the next day. The letter had a packet and checks. Noll received three letters, two checks and one money market account from TD Bank after the first letter.

Noll has more mail coming from TD Bank on March 5. She said that TD Bank put a hold on the account because it takes 90 days to close, but she is still able to track the information. They put in $5 and pulled out $5 by using Zelle to transfer money out of the money market account. Zelle is an app used to send and receive money from another party. It is very similar to an app called Cash App.

“It is very scary and you feel very violated. I learned more about it on NextDoor, an app used for neighborhoods, and it exploded,” Noll said.

The Toronto-Dominion Bank, known as TD Bank, is the fifth largest bank in North America by assets. The company serves more than 26 million customers. However, many who were not served by TD Bank had their identity stolen and accounts opened in their names.

The Sandhills, Southern Pines and Pinehurst areas have been alarmed by the fraudulent scandal that is going on nationwide with TD Bank. State Sen. Tom Mclnnis called for a special town hall meeting in Aberdeen, to discuss Moore County residents’ concerns on the nationwide fraudulent bank scam. To find a common thread on why so many people in these areas were hacked and set up with new bank accounts.

Other officials spoke during the forum with Mclnnis. The forum included Jamie Boles, U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop and Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields. Representatives from N.C. Attorney General’s Office and the FBI presence was there.

The packed room mad more than 100 people inside and was so full that many had to stand up during the duration of the meeting. Tension filled the room as many were worried and felt unheard about their issues with TD Bank. Mclnnis told the overcrowded room to not pick on his sheriff, Sheriff Fields, as tensions rose with many wanting a turn with the mic to voice their thoughts.

The meeting allowed elected officials to learn about the ongoing issue that residents are struggling to overcome. The Moore County Sheriff’s office estimates 1,000 people in the Sandhills area identity were stolen. People brought in large packets to the meetings filled with checks and statements from TD Bank.

Last year, banks like TD Bank and Wells Fargo offered a money initiative if you opened a new account with them. TD Bank offered $200 to those who opened a new account with them; however, the residents of Moore County did not. The closest bank to Aberdeen NC, would be at Florence, SC.

“We know it was a big spike and it affected less than one percent of the population down in the market from what we can tell,” said Hugh Allen, regional president of TD Bank in North Carolina, in an interview with The Pilot.

In Moore County, residents received more letters from TD Bank with new accounts opened in their name. Some with only one account open compared to others who may have three or more.

Mclnnis wanted the meeting to focus on TD Bank, to find a common reason on why people had accounts made with their name and information.

“The way we are going to eat an elephant is one bite at a time… We are not going to take our foot off the gas until we get some relief,” Mclnnis said.

Residents were referred to call the fraud department with TD Bank at 888-751-9000. Many voiced out that the line did not help their question at all or said that no one answered them at the meeting.