Please read this; and do not make the same mistake as me!
The Story of a Scam
(or how I lost the thick end of $10,000.)
On Friday, 6th August, 2021 at 05:51 in came the following email:
Norton Customer ,
*we like to confim you that the NortonDesk re-newal. has been done on your request*
It is very easy to unsubscribe it,
and related to your any query, reach us at +1-(860) – (852) – (6259).
Product-Name : NortonDesk
Price : $475.04
Subscription ID : 8837-77942826-947192-8126
Expiration Date : 3 Year from the Date of Purchase
* If you wish to Cancel this Membership then please feel free to Contact our Billing department as soon as Possible*
*Please do not write to this mail address, that will not help*
Reach us on +1 – (860) – (852) – (6259)
Contact: +1 – (860) – (852) – (6259)
693 Amwell Rd, Hillsborough, NJ
My first mistake was not to check the incoming email address. It was email@example.com
I telephoned the number given and told the person that I wanted to cancel this membership. Indeed that I had never subscribed for this membership in the first place.
I spoke with ‘Adam’. I was then asked to go to a webpage where I filled in a Refund Application Order form. I filled in my details including the refund amount and my bank details: Sort Code & Account Number.
I then submitted the form and imagine my surprise when a few minutes later I was informed that I had received the sum of $10,000. I quickly checked our bank account online and there was the $10,000 credit in our checking account.
My second mistake was me not examining the total in our accounts. I have the facility to show the total funds in our accounts. Why I didn’t do that I can not explain.
Then it was back on the telephone and Adam also was surprised (later I realised that this was a feigned surprise and all part of the scam) and said could I go to the bank and fill in an International Wire Transfer for the amount of $9,500. Adam also said that he would give me the details of the person in Thailand that was to receive the funds, and could I say this was for a medical operation because it would save ‘Norton’ the taxation.
My third mistake was not to discuss this with Jeannie and to assume that it was just a harmless error.
The details came through and I went to our bank in Grants Pass. I got to the bank a little after 09:00. I saw a staff member of the bank and explained what I needed to do. The bank member queried this and said that it sounded like a scam. I lied and said I knew the woman in Thailand and wanted to go ahead. That was what I had been instructed to say.
My fourth mistake was not listening to the woman at the bank. (And I still thought that the ‘Norton’ funds were in my account.)
The International Wire Transfer was completed and I signed it. I also asked the balances on our two accounts. It was about $10,000 less than I expected and I queried it but was told that there had been a transfer from my savings account to my checking account of $10,000 for Norton. I thought that this was still a little low but that I could check it carefully once I got home. I had a thirty-minute window to change my mind.
Mistake number five, a huge mistake, was while at the bank not to ask them carefully to go through all my transactions that day because that would have revealed that the receipt of $10,000 that I had seen online had mysteriously disappeared. Indeed had never been received. That would have enabled me to stop the wire transfer within the thirty-minute window.
I returned home and found out the truth. I had been scammed out of $9,500.
The strange thing was that ‘Adam’ of the billing department of so-called Norton kept ringing me throughout the day to say that the funds would be sent back to me and gave me the details of three wires and that the funds would be back in my bank account on Monday, 9th August!
Later that morning I rang Kevin Dick who manages our investments and told him the tale. He said that there was a huge amount of scamming about and that I should make three phone calls: to the bank and report the fraud; to the Sheriff’s office and report the fraud; and to my insurance company. The first two were done straight away. Kevin also told me to close my bank accounts and amend my email address. Alex, my son, said to use my Proton mail account and straight away I started to make the change.
A person from the humanists group that we belong to said also to inform The Daily Courier.
Kevin also sent me the following links:
From a recent Podcast I created:
A video from our site:
From Finra on Fraud to dos:
On Monday morning Ryan of ‘Norton’ called me at 07:15 and said that Adam Prescott was no longer with the firm. Ryan said that their General Manager, Ron Cooper, would call me shortly. Ron did indeed call me and said that they would return the money but that the minimum cheque they could write was $30,000. I was then told that in advance of me receiving the money I would have to pay a small amount to them. At this point I put the phone down for it was clearly a second attempt to steal more funds from me.
Finally we went back to the bank on Monday morning. We were informed that there was never a credit of $10,000 but that a clever switch of the money from one account to another made it look as though the money had been credited. The event had been reported to the bank’s fraud department.
On Tuesday morning, the 10th August, the bank said that as well as our two accounts being locked out from us and that only cheques and cash withdrawals would be honoured for the time being, the fraud department had made the decision to issue us with a ten-day notice to terminate our accounts. In other words, within ten days the bank would no longer want us as customers. Since then I have done much research and found out via the Forbes website that this was more to do with the bank being ultra conservative than anything else. Indeed Kevin said that he had spoken with his IT department and they thought that it was strange that my ex-bank had terminated us so quickly. The IT department thought that the teller at the bank realised that she had been partly culpable.
However the bank did recommend another bank to go to in Grants Pass.
I have since reset my iMac and changed my email address.
It is a most humiliating affair. I have beaten myself up several times over and have at last understood the frame of mind that I had gotten myself into.
To explain that, first of all I thought that I needed to stop the billing urgently and because it was early on a Friday morning thought that the best thing to do was to call immediately.
Secondly, during the call that scammers spoke to me in friendly tones and quietly complimented me on my integrity. I am sure that this ‘spoke’ to my psychological fear of rejection that I have had since I my father died in 1956.
Then in the morning of the 11th August I received a call from a regular contact at the English company who manage my UK SIPP. He wanted to check if I had tried to log on at 09:00 UK time and I replied that there was no way that was me for that UK time was 01:00 Pacific time. There were apparently three attempts to log on. Unsuccessfully as it turned out and my SIPP account is temporarily closed as a result.
The scammers are very thorough in their crooked craft!
Now as of Thursday, the 12th August, we are pretty much out of the grim shadow of this event. We have new accounts at The People’s Bank here in Grants Pass. I have changed my email address and yesterday afternoon I decided that the only safe way of protecting myself was to get another iMac. I was speaking to the sales department of Apple and mentioned the scam and the woman immediately said I should speak with their Technical Support and transferred me. Then I was helped via screen sharing to go through many pages deleting unnecessary files and other stuff. And the helpful woman found another item of malware that was deleted and removed. She spent 54 minutes getting me properly cleaned out and then forwarded an email with all the links for me to do the same process at a later date. It was a superb experience.
So that is it.
Now watch these two YouTube videos. The first is just 5 minutes long and is important to all who use computers and want to be protected against scammers.
and then watch this slightly longer video from Jim
Be safe! Please!
An addendum dated Saturday, 14th August, at 7am Pacific Time.
Only to say that I also posted my scamming report on Ugly HedgeHog under their General Chit Chat forum. Of the many responses that came in I wanted to post here two of them.
The first from ‘Stanikon’:
Sorry you had to go through this. Your first clue should have been the grammar and phrasing of the original email. That would have given it away. Legitimate companies go to great lengths to make sure their grammar, phrasing and language are correct. I have avoided several scams by paying attention to that so there is some value in being slightly OCD.
and the second from ‘Red6’:
The safest thing to do in these situations is simply not to open the email. I receive on a daily basis, emails telling me that the items I ordered are being shipped, my subscription to something has been renewed etc, etc. 99.9% of these are scams and nothing bad will happen if you just delete them. Older working people often have the fear that there’s a bill out there that has not been paid and they are afraid of getting a bad credit report. So they aggressively try to send someone money for something they cannot even recognize. If it is a true debt, you will be reminded of it several times before any reports are made.
I follow several simple rules in preventing scams. There are many more but this will take care of most of them.
1. Examine the sender’s email address, if you do not recognize it then DO NOT OPEN and DELETE immediately. Most of these scammer’s email addresses will not have the company name in the email address OR it will be combined with other names. Most will not have the .com, .org, etc but will be gmail, Hotmail, or other generic URL. Many of these scammers “broadcast” their emails to everyone on a purchased email list not knowing whether some or valid or not. If you open or reply to these it verifies your email as valid and active and worthy of more attention. Also, if it is an unknown email address, it could be a carrier of a virus or some other bad computer/software infection.
2. If you do get involved with something that does not feel right and you take it to the bank – TRUST THE BANK if they tell you it is suspicious. They see these things every day and develop a feel for them. I received a cashier’s check for something I sold on craigslist. I took it to the bank to deposit and the bank rep immediately recognized the cashier’s check as a fake. She even called the bank the check was supposed to be drawn on and they checked the records and told her that it was counterfeit. You trust your bankers, credit union, etc with your money every day so trust them when they tell you something does not seem right.
3. Scammers know that many older people do NOT like to use credit cards. So a lot of their dealings involve checks, bank transfers, and other forms of older less secure payment methods that older citizens are comfortable with. I NEVER, NEVER send money for something I purchase or order online unless it is through a credit card. In fact, I rarely buy ANYTHING anymore that does not go on the credit card. They are safer, quicker, and easier. If somehow you do get something on your bill that you did not authorize, the credit card company will investigate and go after the person or company that charged you. This is one more safety step that protects the consumer. This does not always apply to debit cards. Debit cards are issued by individual banks or credit unions and some have policies in the fine print that they do NOT have the same policies as the big credit card companies and may not forgive or relieve the user for bad charges made to their debit card.
4. Just do not believe anyone or any company that says they sent you a huge refund or overpayment or some amount of money by mistake. That rarely happens. It is even rarer if they also tell you to return the money to some foreign address, email, or wire transfer. When in doubt, wait for a week or so before you do ANYTHING. If they sent you the check, transfer etc, wait to see if it clears or is valid. We are conditioned by TV and movies that we need to act immediately in situations such as this. This is rarely the case. Take time to see what happens. During this cooling-off period check them out, research the internet to see if others have experienced this scam. It is almost a sure thing that if you are being scammed, others have been also and it has been reported somewhere with law enforcement agencies or on websites on the internet. Check them out before acting. Or better yet, do nothing for a while and most likely they will just go away. Much like the telephone scammers, they make their money on volume, calling as many as possible in the least amount of time. Scammers will not waste time working on you for days, they have thousands of other emails, accounts to call. Remember, they are after the fastest, easiest targets – the low-hanging fruit.
If it is a true mistake or debt you owe then most likely you will receive some official correspondence in regards to the debt. A good example is the IRS and Social Security phone scams in the past couple of years. You get a call from the IRS or Social Security informing you that you may have committed fraud and law enforcement is on their way to arrest you. But if you arrange repayment with their representative, an arrest can be avoided. The IRS and Social Security NEVER take action without first sending several official US Postal letters to you.
If you are still inclined to send money to someone in a foreign country then discuss it with your bank and listen.
Hope this helps.