Naples woman’s life savings saved moments before she sent them to a fraudulent caller

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

Police are warning Southwest Florida residents after a Naples woman almost gave her life savings away to an unknown fraudster. She was seconds away from pressing send on a money app when she got a fraud alert on her phone.

But not everyone gets that kind of alert before they lose their savings.

Florida ranks second in the nation for fraud victims over the age of 60 and second in the nation for the amount of money reported stolen. Last year alone, $84 million was stolen.

Seconds away from financial ruin, a Naples woman told police she was about to send every cent in her savings account to someone posing as a Social Security representative.

That person told her someone used her personal information to open accounts all over the country. The caller told her to download an app that would give them access to her phone.

“Any time you get a call from a government agency or a legitimate business, they’re not going to force you to give up any personal information or to gain access to your phone,” said Bryan Oglesby, director of public relations and outreach for the Better Business Bureau of West Florida. “That’s a big red flag.”

Oglesby said the second red flag was the con artist asking the woman to transfer all of her money through bitcoin.

“You should never send payment to those people if they are asking for those methods of payment. Chances are it’s going to be a scam.”

What ended up saving the victim’s money was a fraud alert that popped up on her phone.

Last month, WINK News spoke to a woman who wasn’t so lucky.

Sheila sent nearly $30,000 to con artists through bitcoin. “I don’t sleep. I relive it day and night and I’m worried because that’s a lot of money and I don’t have it.”

Oglesby said phone companies are trying to help customers spot a scam before you pick up the phone. “They are implementing new technology to identify calls coming into you as spam calls or possible scam calls so you want to reach out to your local cellphone provider and see if that service is available to you and make sure you have turned that service on.”

The best way to avoid a similar situation is to not give out your personal information to anyone on the phone.

If you have a loved one who you think might be vulnerable, it is recommended they unlist their phone numbers to help limit the number of fraudulent calls.

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