(HURON COUNTY, ON) - A Central Huron senior is out thousands of dollars after he recently fell victim to a scam that took place online and over the phone.
This scam started on November 23, 2018 when the victim received a text based message advising him that he was due to receive a $399 dollar refund from a computer product that he had purchased years before. He was then instructed to contact an out of country number to initiate the refund process. The victim had received similar emails and offers before however he had never responded until this occasion.
Upon calling the number the victim was then instructed to key in a few commands on his keyboard and upon doing so he was provided an email address to plug into his computer. Upon following these simple instructions the victim provided the scammers remote access to his computer system. From that point the scammers accessed the victim's online banking accounts and unbeknownst to the victim the scammers shuffled $3,999 from his savings account into his chequing account. By doing so the victim was led to believe the scammers had deposited a refund into his account of $3,999.
The scammers then advised the victim that they had refunded him too much so he was instructed to purchase $3,400 worth of I-tunes gift cards from a local business and after doing so was instructed to call them back with the gift card authorization codes. The scammers even coached the victim as to what to say if he was questioned by sales staff about the high dollar value purchase of gift cards. The victim followed through with the plan and provided the gift card authorization codes to the scammers.
Less than 12 hours later the victim received another call from the scammers and they advised him due to a "Black Friday" computer glitch they didn't receive the transaction thus they instructed him to go to a different store to purchase $3,000 in Google Play gift cards. The victim followed the directions, proceeded with the purchase and provided the authorization codes to the scammers.
After doing so, the relentless scammers contacted him yet again and informed him the transaction was unsuccessful. This time the victim refused to make additional gift card purchases so the scammers switched gears and asked the victim to purchase a $1650 electronic cash transfer from the post office and send it to a recipient based in Kuwait. It was at this point the victim refused, hung up the phone and contacted authorities.
Unfortunately for the victim the damage was already done. The victim ended up losing $3,400; fortunately his credit card provider was able to detect the second transaction as a fraud.
Unfortunately this is a very common scam that appears to be gaining momentum.
The three main ways tech support scams are carried out are through: cold calls, pop-up messages and through incorrect search engine results.
Often the scammers pretend to work for a reputable computer company and they will state they have found malware on your computer. The criminal will then attempt to gain remote access of your computer to install real malware or as in this case to access online banking accounts and personal information. The scammers will also try to sell you a bogus service to fix a non-existent problem.
How to Identify & Avoid Pop-up and Cold Calling Scams:
Examine the message closely, look for obvious signs of fraud such as poor spelling, poor grammar and unprofessional imagery
A simple internet search for the attached number or business involved may help verify its legitimacy.
Many websites exist where people report common scams. If it is indeed a scam, there will be an abundance of search results that clearly point out the scammer.
Reputable computer business will never make unsolicited calls to fix your computer.
Never provide personal information such as passwords and account information to people you don't know.
What you should do if you have been scammed:
Immediately contact your bank and credit card company
Change all your online passwords
Have your computer checked over by a reputable computer repair business
Install anti-virus software on your computer
Contact credit rating agencies to receive a free, basic credit rating report.
Contact your local police authority and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501)
It's not always easy to spot a scam and new ones are invented every day. Don't be embarrassed, you're not alone. If you think it couldn't happen to you, don't be surprised if you're not the next victim.
Fraud - Identify it, Reject it and Report it!