Three Johnston County residents have fallen victims to different internet scams. The scams costs the victims between $1,400 and $11,000 each.
A 54 year-old Smithfield man told authorities he was looking at items for sale on the internet and saw a utility trailer at a bargain price of only $1,400. The man said he contacted the seller who claimed he was about to be deployed and needed to make a quick transaction. The seller requested payment be made with eBay gift cards totaling $1,400. After providing the seller the gift card numbers, he was told the trailer would be shipped to North Carolina. The trailer never arrived and the victim later realized he had been scammed.
In another case, a 76 year-old Selma woman contacted Johnston County deputies after was scammed out of $2,125 . The victim said she an ad on Facebook promoting books for sale for only 99 cents. The victim filled out a form to purchase one of the books thinking the total price with taxes would be $1.07. She determined the charges were actually $39.99. She contacted the phone number listed on the fictitious ad to attempt to cancel the book order but during the conversation they convinced her to allow them to access to her personal computer to issue a refund.
During the fake refund process they obtained her personal information including her bank account number. They convinced the elderly woman they had made a mistake and had refunded $3,999 into her account, not $39.99, and asked her to refund the difference to them by purchasing Walmart and Amazon gift cards. They told the victim not to tell anyone the reason she was buying the gift cards and not contact the police. After buying $2,000 in gift cards and providing the card numbers she refused to send them any more money. Later she determined the fraudsters had obtained an additional $125 in gift cards with her stolen bank account information.
In a heartbreaking case, a retired 75 year-old Willow Spring woman lost $11,000 in a scam this month. The victim said she received a call from someone posing as an employee of the Geek Squad with Best Buy. The caller claimed the victim was due a refund and they needed remote access to her home computer to submit the refund. The woman unknowingly allowed the caller access and through conversation was tricked into thinking they had deposited $11,000 into her bank account.
The scammer asked the woman to withdraw $11,000 in cash from her bank and FedEx the money to a West Coast address. The victim complied. Only days later did she realize she had been scammed and no money had been ever deposited into her bank account.
According to AARP, fraud is the biggest consumer complaint each year in the United States. Last year, 1.7 million fraud complaints were filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Imposter scams were among the biggest fraud complaints. In 2019, an estimated $667 million was lost to imposter scams up from $497.2 million in 2018, a 34 percent increase.
AARP says the older the person’s age the more likely they are to lose money. The median loss for people in their 20’s was $448 while the median loss for people in their 80’s who fell victim to scams was $1,600 per incident.
The most common way victims are contacted by fraudsters is the telephone. Websites, email, and mail are other forms.
Click here to submit a complaint to the FTC or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357).