We share these true stories of member experiences to help you avoid falling victim to a scam. If you ever have questions about the validity of a request for money or information about your account, contact us.
The Scammer: Simon
Simon was eager to start his day as a professional thief. Stealing money from strangers was fun and profitable! All it took was a little creativity, persuasion, and luck. Today, he would pretend to be an Amazon employee contacting people about refunds for purchases they didn’t make. He turned on his computer, pulled up the list of targets, and began making calls.
The Target: Daphne
Daphne received Simon’s voice mail message and returned his call. If Amazon accidentally charged her for a purchase, she wanted to correct it right away.
The Scam: Savings Switcheroo
Several members have encountered this especially expensive scam in the past several weeks. It’s a little more complicated than others we’ve reported, so we’ve broken it into five steps. Let’s see what happens after Simon gets Daphne on the phone:
Step 1: Get access to Daphne’s computer
Simon explains that for the refund to be processed, a form needs to be downloaded and completed. If Daphne is willing to give him remote access to her computer, Simon can help fill it out. Daphne agrees. Before starting the form, Simon asks Daphne to check her account to see if the wrong charge has appeared yet.
Step 2: View Daphne’s account balances
Daphne logs into her account while Simon watches. Her password is shielded by asterisks, so she knows he can’t read it. Once in, she glances at her checking account balance. Everything looks fine, until her screen suddenly goes dark. Simon apologizes, and asks her to give him a minute while he resets their connection.
Step 3: Setup the illusion
While Daphne waits for her screen to return, Simon transfers $24,999 from her savings to her checking, and logs out. When Daphne’s screen view comes back, she sees the form for her refund request. Simon helps her finish filling it out, and tells her to enter “$249.99” for the refund amount.
Step 4: Activate the illusion
Having completed the form, Simon asks Daphne to check her account balance for the refund. To her surprise, Daphne’s checking account balance has grown by $24,999! Simon lies and tells her the decimal point in “$249.99” didn’t register, and tells her to wire him the overpayment immediately to avoid trouble.
Step 5: Steal the money
Daphne takes the information provided by Simon, and wires the funds. Some time later, she notices the $24,999 transfer from her savings to her checking. The funds she wired to Simon were her own. She had been scammed.
The Lesson: Watch for these signs
- Feed on creating a false sense of urgency or excitement
- Will discourage you from hanging up and contacting us for help
- Will lie to gain access to your account information
- Ask for wire transfers, gift card numbers, and other cash transfer methods that are untraceable