Fox Cities woman loses $9,000 in hybrid scam
A 62-year-old Fox Crossing woman was under the impression that she was getting a refund for the anti-virus subscription on her computer.
Instead, she lost more than $9,000 to a smooth-talking scam artist.
The April incident is yet another example of an unsuspecting person falling prey to a con. But the nature of this scam has drawn concerns from the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin and from Fox Cities’ law enforcement agencies.
That’s because it appears to be a combination of two time-tested scams: the tech support ruse and the overpayment rip-off.
“They are melding two scams together,” said Susan Bach, Northeast Wisconsin Regional Director of the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin. “This particular version is not very common, but now I am concerned that it is becoming more common.”
The overpayment scam, which has been around for many years, involves a scammer sending a check or wire payment to individuals or businesses, and then claiming that there was an overpayment. They ask their targets to send – or wire – the overpayment to a separate account and provide access to the account. The scammers then take the money, and the victims find out that the “overpayment” checks were worthless.
The tech support scam also has been around for years. It typically involves a phone call from a person who falsely claims to be a specialist from Microsoft. The scam artist tells a consumer that a virus has been detected on a computer and offers to remove it. That involves getting remote access to the computers – leaving them vulnerable to multiple levels of fraud, including excessive credit card payments.
In the Fox Crossing incident, the 62-year-old woman spoke on the phone with a man who said he was going to send her a refund for her antivirus subscription. According to the police report, it appeared to her that $14,000 had been placed in her checking account.
The caller told the resident that there had been an error and instructed her to pay the money back. He told her it would be best to send money grams. She complied, sending $9,179 in a series of transactions.
Later, she learned that the caller manipulated funds in her bank account to make it appear that she had received a $14,000 refund. She changed her account numbers at the bank and froze alternate points of access. She also planned to have her computer cleaned to remove any spyware, police said.
Bach said it appears that the woman was victimized by a variation of the tech support and overpayment scams.
“They’re very clever and they’re very convincing,” Bach said of the scam artists. “I’m sure the scammers will try it again. What concerns me is they are always finding new (variations on scams).”
Jason Weber, community liaison officer with the Fox Crossing Police Department, agreed.
“These scammers twist things,” Weber said. “They mix them up a bit and use different types of methods.
“People still fall for it, but it’s very difficult to locate these people and get your money back.”
Andy Thompson: 920-996-7270 or email@example.com; on Twitter @Thompson_AW
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To learn about the various scams that target consumers, visit www.bbb.org/wisconsin/.