Seniors: Avoid tech support scams

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Seniors: Avoid tech support scams
Reach out to someone you know and trust if you suspect that you have received a fraudluent email. (File photo)
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By Sang Pak

Recently, the Alexandria Police Department has seen an increase in criminal complaints from senior residents who have fallen victim to a tech support scam. The following is a general description of how the scam is perpetrated.

John, a 72-year-old city resident, received an email from orderconfirmed@amz. com claiming that he had recently purchased a computer from Amazon. The shipping address showed that the computer was being shipped to an address in New Jersey.

Knowing that he had not purchased the computer, John called the phone number included in the email. John spoke with representative “Matt” who offered to process the return. John, who was not good with computers, provided Matt his computer access information and his online banking access information because Matt claimed he needed to process the return.

Monitoring the computer screen, John noticed that he received $10,000 credit to his checking account instead of the $1,000 he was expecting. John alerted Matt of the mistake that was made, and Matt begged John to return the additional credited funds stating that he was going to get fired.

John, not wanting to get Matt fired, decided to send the money back. John was first instructed to wire the over payment money to a Thailand bank account. John’s bank did not provide international money wiring services, so John was instructed to purchase Best Buy gift cards. John purchased the maximum allowable amount of $4,000 in gift cards. John was on the phone with the representative the whole time and provided the gift card numbers and security pin numbers to Matt.

During the police investigation, it was discovered that the email John had received was a fraudulent email made to appear as if it was sent from Amazon. The phone numbers associated with “Matt” were identified as being a computer voice over an IP phone number from an Asian country. The $10,000 John initially received ended up being a transfer of funds from John’s saving to his checking account by Matt. The gift cards were used to purchase merchandise in California and Oregon. Some of the merchandise was sent to an international shipping address to be resold in other countries.

To protect him from being further victimized by Matt, John was encouraged to contact his bank to reset his account information, have his computer serviced by a qualified computer technician and contact the three major credit bureaus to report his potentially compromised personal information. John was also encouraged to use safe computer practices, including always verifying the sender of the email and not clicking on any links that are sent by online merchants, banks and other companies.

When you suspect that you have received a fraudulent email, please contact someone you know and trust to verify the sender.

Financial exploitation incidents may be reported to Adult Protective Services through the Division of Aging and Adult Services. APS is mandated to provide services for adults 18 years or older and physically or mentally disabled or 60 years or older who are being abused, neglected or exploited.

Protective services for adults consist of the receipt and investigation of reports of suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation. It includes assessing and documenting adults’ service needs, determining services needed and developing a plan to obtain services.

Report incidents of financial exploitation of an adult to APS at 703-746-5778 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or after hours at 888-832-3858. For more information visit www. alexandriava.gov/Aging.

If you have experienced a similar tech support scam, report the incident to Detective Sang Pak in APD’s financial crimes division at 703- 746-6157.

The writer is a detective in the Alexandria Police Department’s financial crimes division.

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