Terry’s Columns Scary Scam Story

Scary Scam Story

By Terry Savage on May 10, 2023

I’m going to tell you a scary story. Or rather, I’m going to let the person involved tell you his true story – one that should make you aware how easy it is for your parents – or you – to get drawn into a financial scam.

Technology has enabled fraudsters to grab your money so quickly, and so anonymously, that instances of fraud – especially against seniors – have ballooned. Says FBI Agent Siobhan Johnson: “Between 2021 and 2022, total losses by older Americans in online scams increased by 84%. Americans over age 60 lost more than $3 billion last year. Illinoisans alone lost $75 million.”

Think it couldn’t happen to you? Read the story below in the original words of the sender – and then decide if it could happen to someone you love.

[I am posting this email in its entirety, with no corrections, so the impact remains strong in the re-telling.]

Dear Terry:
My psychiatrist suggested I write to you to see if you had any advice for me about getting scammed online.
I received an email that stated a new McAfee program would be installed on my computer unless I called a number in the body of the email before 48 hours of the email.

I called and they said they would refund the price of the program.

They told me to set up an online banking account. They then told me to fill out a form and said I messed up. They set up remote access to my computer so they could pull up my bank accounts. They started manipulating the figures. Instead of putting $50 to refund I put $50,000.

They then said I should wire transfer $48,600 back to them. They gave me the info for the transfer. My bank asked if I was sure I wanted to do this. I continued with all the lies they told me to say when the bank asked.

I was also told to leave my cell phone and computer on. When I got back home to send them the receipt for the transfer, I was told their company screwed up and duplicated the $50,000. They then wanted me to go back to the bank and transfer another $49,500 back to them. This time the bank convinced me there was something up with this and I didn’t send the second wire transfer.

Now I am trying to find out if there is some way I can possibly recover my first $49,600.

I initially thought someone was pranking me. But I responded with instructions on how to report this immediately to the FBI (see below).

A few hours later, I received a second email. It left me reeling, again.

Thank you for your help. . . . I was just contacted by a company that says they can recover some or all the money but I have to pay $5,800 ahead of time in order for them to move forward. If any recovered it would be another 2% of funds recovered.

I had a hard time trying to pay with a site they directed me to and could not pay the money online. They then tried to get me to wire them the money but it could not be done. They then suggested going to an ATM to send it but I don’t have an ATM account so could not do that either. They came up with another try by saying I can go to a couple of CVS stores to get cash cards. Lucky for me, I guess, my back condition prevented me to go out and get them.

The lesson: when panic sets in, people can be vulnerable. And once the fraudsters have you on the hook, they will come back again in different ways.

The worst thing is to be scared to report fraud. Agent Johnson says you should immediately go to www.IC3.gov (Internet Crime Complaint Center) and click on “file a report.” Or call 800-CALL-FBI.

Says Johnson: “The FBI’s Recovery Asset Team (RAT) was created in 2018 to help the FBI and financial partners recover money stolen through online scams. In its first year alone, the team aided in the recovery of over $300 million (a 79% return rate of reported losses). The faster you report the theft, the faster we can get started.”

If you’re a victim, please don’t hide. You’ll help yourself and others if you report this crime promptly.
And that’s The Savage Truth.



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