QUEEN CITY NEWS – Imagine seeing your life savings disappear in the blink of an eye.
It happened to one man who thought scammers got into his bank account and stole $14,400, however, the deception was only the beginning of a gut-wrenching life lesson.
“It’s not like I’m some old guy that’s going to fall for anything,” Hale Johnson told Queen City News. “This was very slick.”
Johnson was on his computer when he started getting pop-ups from what he thought was Microsoft.
“My computer started going haywire,” he said. “Multiple windows and it got real loud and it said do not cut off your computer,” he continued. “Then a pop-up said, ‘get in touch with Microsoft.’ call this number to get your computer straightened out.”
He now knows it wasn’t Microsoft, but at the time he called the number on his screen, which led him to a customer service rep that’s now known as scammer #1.
“She said don’t worry. We can fix your laptop,” Johnson recalled.
She told him he might have issues with his banking.
“She said, ‘who do you bank with?’ I said Bank of America. She said, ‘well, I can put you straight through to the fraud department with Bank of America. Would you like for me to do that?’ and I said sure,” he said.
Enter scammer #2.
“I put in my username and my password, and when my screen came up, it showed a $14,400 withdrawal,” he said. “In reality, my money was still there. I didn’t know that.”
The scammer told him they wanted to catch the “bad guys” and needed a wire transfer in the amount of $14,400 to catch them.
He said the scammers said, “What I want you to do is I want you to go to a local branch and wire that amount of money to this person and I’m going to give you his name.”
What Johnson actually did was wire money directly to the scammers without knowing it. When he called the next day?
“Phone number didn’t work anymore, Everybody was gone including my money,” he said.
Johnson has since learned the scammers did what’s called a screen overlay… which is meant to mimic commonly used websites — like the login page for your bank. He filed a claim with Bank of America to try to get his money back, but he is hopeful his nightmare can serve as a warning to someone else.
“It’s easy for people to say, ‘oh, you didn’t have a red flag when they told you go down and make that wire?’ No, I didn’t because I saw that the money was gone and I thought I was talking to a representative with the fraud department at Bank of America,” he said.