Computer hackers pretending to be from a giant tech company are calling consumers, and gaining access to their bank accounts. One hacker even swindled nearly $25,000 from one local couple.
"They're so savvy that they can get into your computers and figure out passwords just by the click of the keys," said Nancy Isdale.
Isdale and her husband George say they thought they were getting money from Microsoft until they were swindled out of $24,600. The hacker, who told the couple his name was Sean, made it seem like he was a tech support expert and that he was refunding the couple $400 on behalf of Microsoft, but instead he was fooling them into giving him remote access to their computer.
"Once they get into the computer you can see the mouse going around so they are into your computer," explained George.
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Then the couple said the scammer gained access to their money on their computer by saying they could help them set up online access for all of their bank accounts compromising their accounts.
"So that's what they did, they took the money out of my savings, and put it in his checking account," said Nancy.
Without them knowing, "Sean" took $25,000 from Nancy's savings account and transferred it to George's checking. Then the scammer said he mistakenly gave George a $25,000 Microsoft credit instead of that $400 credit, and that George needed to send $24,600 back.
"He was like crazy, he was like, 'Oh my God, this isn't your money. This is Microsoft's money. You need to get to the bank right away and wire transfer this'," said Nancy.
What they ended up doing is sending their own hard-earned money to that scammer in Bangkok, Thailand.
"You know I was nervous. I didn't want to be responsible for $25,000 to Microsoft so, you know, we went to the bank," explained Nancy.
Just when they thought it was the end of it, the thief called them back a few days later demanding even more money.
"He wanted us to send $40,000 to Bangkok, Thailand again," explained Nancy.
When the couple went to make the second wire transfer, their same bank in Forest Park prevented them from being victimized a second time.
"So, I mean, they would have wiped us out! Had he not noticed these were coming across his desk," said Nancy.
The couple filed a police report and said it alerted the FBI, but they have not been able to recover any of the money. Instead they are left with a dent in their bank account and a voicemail from the hacker making fun of them.
"You idiots, you fools. We have already stolen $24,000... ha ha ha ha ha ha."
Microsoft's website and community forums warn of this industry wide scam and other consumers on its website. You should know that tech reps from any company will never cold call you to offer you refunds, or fixes to your device by gaining remote access.
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"I'm going to be very, very honest with you. My feeling is it's gone and I'll never see it," said George. "That is my honest to God feeling. I will never see that money."
If you accidentally wire money to a scammer, there is a chance the FBI can recover the money if you report it within 72 hours.
Legitimate Tech support reps are extremely busy and won't call you out of the blue. Also be wary of pop-ups, which say something on your computer needs to be fixed. This can be another form of the scam.
TIPS to prevent this scam:
-Legitimate tech companies like Microsoft will not call you and offer you help.
-Legitimate tech companies will never ask you for your banking or personal information.
-Be suspicious of any pop-ups on your computer saying something needs fixing.
-Never give remote access to any "tech" company who reaches out to you.
-If you wire money to a scammer, file a report with the FBI and ic3.gov within 72 hours. They may be able to help you get your money back.
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