The sheriff’s office is warning residents in Lake County about an elaborate online scam that caused one Lake County resident to send $20,000 in cash to a scammer.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said in a social media post on Saturday that the resident recently made a report with a sheriff’s deputy that they had been scammed into sending $20,000 cash to an individual posing as a PayPal employee.
The victim, the deputy and the UPS shipping store worked together to ultimately recover the package, which police said was unusual to be able to recover the funds. “Most of the time the victim’s money is not recovered.”
The sheriff’s office explained that the scam involves the person receiving an email, text message or phone call indicating an account of theirs, such as a bank account, PayPal account or other money account, has been used to make a purchase.
The message says to contact a certain phone number if the purchase is unauthorized.
The scammer hopes the victim does not verify the transaction with their banking institution first and instead call the number.
The scammer then engages the victim in additional dialogue and assures them they will help you fix your “hacked” computer and get a refund, the sheriff’s office said.
The scammer has the victim download a program, which is really a remote desktop – a way for them to access a person’s files, passwords and bank accounts.
The scammer distracts them by presenting a form on their computer to type your refund amount into. Meanwhile, the scammer is accessing your bank accounts.
While logged into various accounts, the scammer transfers money from one of the victim’s accounts to another account, usually a significant amount.
The scammer then tells you to type your refund amount into their fake form, at which time they manipulate the amount the person types and then accuse them of inputting the wrong amount.
They tell the victim to open their checking account to see if their balance reflects the wrong refund, which it will because they have already transferred that money from one of their other accounts.
In some situations, the scammer simply manipulates the website code to display a higher bank account balance than the victim actually has, the sheriff’s office said.
The scammer then accuses the victim of stealing money from them and plays on their emotions to make them think they will be fired and their children will suffer because of the victim’s typing “mistake.”
The scammer then convinces the victim to repay the money by utilizing a Crypto Currency ATM or withdrawing cash to mail them.
The sheriff’s office said it is not simple to recover money mailed to a scammer.
“The scammers generally have the money mailed to an unoccupied residence that they have no ties to. They sit in their car (usually a rental car, or a car with stolen license plates) all day, waiting for the delivery driver to arrive,” authorities said.
Once the driver arrives, they grab the package and drive off with thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Once the victim has discovered they have been scammed, it is almost always too late for authorities to be able to retrieve the stolen money.
The sheriff’s office said people should never trust an unsolicited telephone call, text message or email, and always be suspicious of links and phone numbers they receive.
People who think they have been scammed should file a police report immediately.
“Scammers are good at what they do, they prey on people’s emotions and vulnerabilities, especially those who are not proficient utilizing the internet,” authorities said.