What you need to know..
ROBERTSON COUNTY TENNESSEE: (Smokey Barn News) – A Robertson County man fell prey to a high-tech two-part ruse that netted the criminals about $15,000.
Initially, Coopertown Police reached out to Smokey Barn News about the ruse to get the word out to the community. As we were preparing our report, a second victim emerged. The first victim caught on to the scam but a second victim was not so lucky. The second victim agreed to talk with Smokey Barn News about the ruse but asked that we not reveal his identity. He felt very embarrassed to have fallen prey to the ruse but decided it would likely benefit others to understand the scam.
The entire ruse began last Monday and continued for the better part of a week. It started when, we’ll call him Mr. Jones, received an email indicating that a recurring fee for virus protection services had been charged to his account and if he wanted to cancel he needed to call a number in the email.
Mr. Jones called the number and a young lady with an accent said to initiate a refund she would need to transfer him to another department. Mr. Jones was then transferred to a man using the name Eric. Eric told Mr. Jones that he could help him with the refund and asked him to go online and open his bank account.
Once Mr. Jones had his account up on his screen, Eric walked him through the instructions to get the $399 refund. At some point, Eric got excited, telling Mr. Jones that he (Mr. Jones) had accidentally entered $4000 instead of the $400. Sure enough, Mr. Jones could see that $4000 suddenly appeared in his checking account.
What Mr. Jones did not know was that Eric had somehow activated screen-sharing on his computer and had moved the 4k from his savings to his checking. Mr. Jones doesn’t know how screen-sharing was activated. He has no memory of clicking on anything or getting log-in instructions but Eric could clearly make his mouse move.
Mr. Jones now believed that he owed Eric’s firm 4k. Eric then employed a more common ruse and told Mr. Jones the only way for Mr. Jones to give the money back was to go buy gift cards and read him the numbers. Mr. Jones felt responsible so he complied. CONTINUE READING BELOW AD
After Mr. Jones read Eric the numbers, Eric said the numbers didn’t work and told Mr. Jones he would need to wire the money over. To do that Eric would put another $10,000 into Mr. Jones’s account to meet the minimum wire transfer amount. Again Mr. Jones could see money appear into his account.
Committed to making it right, Mr. Jones wired the money. The story goes on for another day or so. On Mr. Jones’s second attempt to get more gift cards at the behest of Eric, Walmart and Kroger apparently suspected something was up and refused to sell him any more gift cards.
By Thursday Eric knew it was over but he wasn’t done, he had one more ruse up his sleeve. This time Eric called Mr. Jones stating he was with security at Mr. Jones’ bank and was looking into the matter. The ruse failed, Mr. Jones recognized his voice.
Mr. Jones did his best to recall all the events but the ruse went on for several days so a few facts may be out of order.
Coopertown Police told Mr. Jones that he should take his computer to a professional and have it cleaned.
A common response to any scam report is “This would never happen to me.” Well, it may not happen to you but as you read this report a member of your own family might just be on the phone with Eric.
So, what do you do? Here are some simple tips most experts recommend. Please share them with your entire family. The less computer experience they have the more important it will be to share this information with them.
- Never call numbers sent to you via email. If it’s a firm you know, look up the number yourself.
- Never click on links, pictures, or attachments inside emails unless you are 100% certain it’s legitimate. Remember, scammers can create very authentic-looking emails.
- Never give money to anyone that calls you over the phone, even if you know and like the firm, and even if you recognize the incoming number. The number could be spoofed and there’s no way to confirm their identity even if the phone number looks correct. You can always look up the number and initiate a call yourself to a number you know is good.
- If an email, text message, or caller claims to be with a firm you do business with, call the firm yourself with a number you know is verified.
- Remember, they are dialing for dollars. Scammers are looking for that one person that just left the bank or just paid an invoice. They don’t care how cute or nice you are, they just want your money.
Last week Smokey Barn News reported a scam involving an AT&T ruse that capitalized on AT&T’s use of Text messages to communicate with their customers. In that case, the scammers were phishing for personal data to likely sell on the dark web. Full story. CONTINUE READING BELOW AD
The point is, never to do anything directly from an email, phone call, or text. Let them all get mad, call the firm yourself with a number you know is good. If you have the tiniest bit of doubt about something you are being asked to do on the phone, over email, or text, get out of the situation immediately and tell a family member or someone you trust. If the caller gets mad at you for asking for a break, the odds are you are being scammed.
Mr. Jones is in communication with his bank and the police. He said he’ll let us know if any of his losses end up being covered by the bank or insurance entity.