DC bar and restaurant loses more than $200K in cyberattack

A bar and restaurant in D.C. is still struggling to pick up the pieces months after it was hit by a cybercrime.

Johnny Pistolas, in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, lost nearly $500,000 after someone hacked into their business-related bank accounts and carried out fraudulent transfers.

“There was a phishing attack,” said Jonathan Askarinam, whose family owns the business. “Hackers were able to access our accounts and perform 25 wire transactions between five business accounts.”

The transactions happened through the overnight hours between last Dec. 30 and Dec. 31.

“It’s a huge amount of money,” Askarinam said. “Your stomach drops and it’s like you’re in shock.”

The family has since been able to recover roughly half of the money, but they are still out more than $200,000 and say their bank has ended its investigation into the matter.

“We’re looking into our legal options at the moment,” said Askarinam. “We’re trying to find the right lawyer to assist us.”

The family’s bank was BB&T, which merged with SunTrust to become Truist.

A Truist spokesperson released a statement to WTOP, saying they “can’t comment on client matters to protect the privacy of our clients.”

“What I can share is that protecting our clients and their accounts is a top priority for us. Truist takes instances of fraud very seriously and we go to great lengths to detect and prevent fraud,” the spokesperson said.

“We have multiple layers of safeguards to protect consumers from fraud, including providing prompts within the user experience to help clients identify red flags that may indicate scams.”

Askarinam said his family blames the bank, claiming that it didn’t do anything to stop the fraudulent transfers once they started.

“It’s an unfortunate situation that you put your money in an account and it wasn’t protected,” said Askarinam. “We called the bank and we reported it. They weren’t aware of the situation. We had to report it to them.”

Askarinam’s family is working with D.C. police and the FBI.

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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