Thieves target a woman in her 80s and now she’s lost almost $30K

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Sheila Credit: WINK News

Crooks targeted an older woman and now she’s lost more than $25,000. They contacted the woman in her 80s online and convinced her to turn over some cash. This is known as the “help desk scam.”

Sheila says she had her own money and was proud of what she’d accomplished. So, that makes her wonder how this scam could’ve happened to her. “I had my own business I was a businesswoman and how could this have happened to me,” she said.

Now, she’s embarrassed, feeling violated and scared. Sheila prays that she won’t have to sell her family’s home. “That little cushion was helping me each month and now I don’t have it. And now I’m trying to come to terms with the only thing I can do really is sell the house…and that’s all,” said Sheila.

WINK News is not sharing Sheila’s last name so that she won’t be targeted again.

All of this began on Sunday night when Sheila clicked on a link on Facebook. Then, her computer froze for hours. All of the sudden, she saw a popup on her screen stating that she’d been hacked. It said to call the number on the screen for help. “They got into my head,” Sheila said.

Shortly after seeing that message, she received calls from someone who claimed to be associated with her bank. They told her a hacker was about to steal thousands from her bank account. They said the only way she could protect herself was to cash it out and send the money to them with bitcoin.

AARP says bitcoin is a warning sign that you’re dealing with a scammer. Jeff works with AARP. “The whole idea of pulling money out and putting it in Bitcoin, or often we also see gift cards as a way that scammers will steer people to put money. Those are all things that are warning signs, but there are warning signs that you have to be aware of,” Jeff said.

Sheila spent hours putting hundred-dollar bills into bitcoin ATMs which totaled $29,000. Her family rushed to her side and convinced her the people saying they were trying to help her were actually stealing from her.

“No, I don’t sleep. And I relive it day and night and I’m worried because that’s a lot of money and I don’t have it,” said Sheila. The scammers are still calling several times per day, even during her interview with WINK News.

Sheila hopes that her loss can help you recognize the sign of a scam. “Don’t ever let somebody on the computer or the phone call ask you to do anything,” she said.

It is nearly impossible for police departments to do anything in cases like these because Bitcoin is nearly impossible to trace. The scammers are also, often, overseas.

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