TUSTIN, Calif. (CBSLA) – A California veteran fell victim to a phishing scam, losing thousands of dollars in an account meant to pay for his daughter’s college tuition and, almost a month later, is still frozen out of his Chase Bank account.

“It’s a custodial account for my daughter’s education. It was cleaned out,” said Navy veteran and Laguna Niguel resident Eric Cletcher, who insisted that the more than $19,000 was lost through no fault of his own.

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(credit: CBS)

The scam started with a text message, allegedly sent from Chase Bank, and continued with a phone call from a woman claiming to work for the bank.

It was later confirmed that the text message was a phishing scheme, which is a cyber crime.

“I even verified that phone number and it went right to Chase Bank,” Cletcher, a customer with Chase Bank, said. “An agent on the line, Barbara, called me by name, stated my name, ‘Good morning, Mr. Cletcher.’ She knew my name. She knew the last four of my social security number. She knew the last four digits of my debit card and of the account number in question, which was my checking account.”

The Navy veteran claims he didn’t give out any of his personal information and that the phony bank employee was notifying him about fraudulent charges, saying that his debit card was going to get cancelled. At the time, Cletcher said he didn’t suspect anything criminal, but minutes later, when he logged onto his account, he was locked out. He’s still locked out nearly a month later.

“It’s been a nightmare, to say the least. I feel like I’m in the twilight zone,” he said.

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When Cletcher reached a legitimate Chase Bank employee on the phone, he was told there was no fraud on his account, but there had been wire transfers to someone in Florida. Every penny in his daughter’s college account was gone.

He has since had multiple calls with law enforcement and Chase Bank.

“I’ve been on vacation, pumping gas for $80 and gotten a call from Chase Bank asking if that’s really me at the gas pump. I mean, where was the security from Chase Bank on an almost $20,000 wire transfer. I didn’t authorize any of these charges,” Cletcher said.

(credit: CBS)

Chase Bank did confirm that it is still working on Cletcher’s case, but wants customers to know, “Chase will never contact a customer asking them to share account details to prevent or stop fraud on their account via check, wire transfer or an electronic platform.”

Officials at Chase also want customers to be careful about scams happening in the form of texts or phone calls from someone asking for personal information, and added that the bank will not contact you to ask for a personal identification number (PIN) or threaten to close or suspend an account.

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Furthermore, Chase said that customers would not be asked to give up account or credit card information either.