OAK PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Check your bank accounts often: that's the lesson three consumers now have for others.
They were able to spot tens of thousands of dollars in mysterious withdrawals from their accounts because they checked their statements. But the money was taken by a business they say they never heard of, so they asked the ABC7 I-Team to investigate.
They don't know each other, but their bank statements have similar withdrawals. They all say they experienced the same fraud: a medical company withdrew money from their accounts, with a combined total of more than $40,000.
The large sums of money were taken directly out of the three Oak Park families' bank accounts by Vollen Medical Center.
"That sent me into an instant panic because I immediately thought, 'Oh no, did we charge something by accident? What happened?'" Audrey Barrientos told the I-Team.
When she received a low balance warning from her bank, PNC, she logged in to find a nearly $10,000 withdrawn by Vollen.
The bank couldn't stop the transaction because it was a direct debit.
"They utilized our full bank and full routing account numbers, and my husband's name, to remove the money," Barrientos said.
That same month, Andy Carey had more than $22,000 taken from his Chase accounts withdrawn by Vollen Medical Center. Carey's bank said they couldn't stop it either.
"Very unsettling," he said. "It didn't feel like it was any safer than hiding it under the mattress or putting it in a safe in the house."
Oak Parker Laura Riff's USAA bank account had nearly $10,000 directly withdrawn by Vollen.
"We don't know how someone got that information," she said.
Riff and Barrientos' banks investigated and several days later returned the money, but their accounts were nearly drained during that time.
Carey said his bank, Chase, did not send a refund, but when the I-Team got involved Chase said: "We reviewed Mr. Carey's case and made sure his funds were returned. We also apologized for any initial confusion due to a duplicate claim filing."
"Soon as you try to hit the pillow, your mind races to all the things that you're trying to figure out," Carey said. "How it happened, and to try to figure out how to prevent it from happening in the future."
All three consumers found each other after posting their situations on Facebook. They began a search for the Vollen Medical Center but all they found was a Google address saying it was in the West Loop.
"No one ever answered," said Riff. "The phone just rings."
"And on further investigation, their location or the address wasn't even a medical center," added Barrientos.
The I-Team went to the listed address for Vollen Medical Center, a shared office space. We spoke to managers here in this building and they say that Vollen has never had a medical facility here, but they only use the space to get mail.
The Illinois Department of Public Health says it has no record of a Vollen Medical Center as a registered provider with the state.
We emailed a contact at Vollen Medical and received a response from a "Ms. Dixie, Operation Manager" saying Vollen never bills clients unless services are rendered.
The email went on to say, "I reprimand you from running any fictitious stories on Vollen Medical without due process is done to resolve the matter.
"Ms. Dixie" offered to look into the charges after we supplied each person's name and amount charged. The consumers said they never heard from Vollen.
The I-Team also called another contact for the company, but never heard back.
"When I found out there were people in the community that had similar situations happen, it made me even more nervous because I thought, well, who stole our information?" said Barrientos. "I felt very violated."
The families still don't know how Vollen was able to get their private banking information.
But one bank said it's possible that in cases like these, consumers provided routing and account numbers to another business name which they thought was legitimate. Or, their information could have been compromised from another vendor, who had their routing and account numbers.
"And if you don't know how it happened, it's hard to find a solution to prevent it from happening again," Carey added.
Banks say consumers should be mindful that routing numbers and account numbers are also on physical checks which can be stolen from a mailbox or from a business.