To Catch a Thief And I Don't Mean Cary Grant
Three days ago I received an email from the Geek Squad telling me that in order to receive my refund from Best Buy, I would have to go through them. I WAS expecting a refund from Best Buy, so I don’t even question the email, although upon looking at it with a critical eye, (Red Flag #1) I should have. Shame on me.
I replied to the text and a man answered the phone, but the line was extremely poor and I could barely understand him. (Red Flag #2 He told me that to receive my refund of $357.46, I would have to allow him to install software called: Any Desk. (Red Flag #4). I was already feeling nervous, but I ignored my misgivings and ended up with an Any Desk app on my computer.
And then he told me to click onto something that came from a drop down menu. I clicked the wrong one and he said, “No, click the one on the right, the one that says …” (Red Flag #5)
That’s when I realized that he could actually see my bank account page. And then he said to type in my computer password. “No,” I said. “The bank doesn’t need my computer password.”
“They, do,” he insisted.
“I’m not doing it,” I said on the verge of hanging up. And then I said: “I don’t know you and I don’t trust you.”
That’s when he got all huffy. “I represent a reputable international company. We have been in business for years and there’s not a more reputable company than the Geek Squad.”
I lasted about another minute and he could tell that he needed to calm everything down, so he said that he had just send the refund, and he wanted me look for it on my banking screen.
It never came, of course. And then he asked what time it was in my time zone. I told him and Then he said, “We’ll that explains it. Deposits stop being recorded after 7 p.m. in your area.”
I knew that was a lie—deposits come in all hours of the day and night. I was in the process of hanging up, when he gave me two telephone numbers for himself, noting that his name “John” even though he was clearly from somewhere in Africa, probably Nigeria, a country knee deep in scammers. And then he said he’d call back at ll a.m. the next day.
As soon as I hung up, I flew into action. I called my banker, a young Egyptian man who I love like a family member. I told him what happened and he was extremely concerned. He used to work at the bank that was compromised, and he gave me a private number for a woman who only deals in fraud cases.
I called her and she immediately traced my transactions, froze the account, changed the number of my checking account, issued me new checks and told me to stay out of the account until all traces of the scammers were off of my devices.
At eleven this morning Big Bad John called, all cheery and smily. I interrupted him to say: "John, I know who you are. My accounts are frozen and don't ever call me again." He hasn't.
A few hours ago, one of APPLE’S geniuses got rid of the imbedded app. Actually there were two identical apps: one that could be seen and one that was well hidden. The Apple guy said he was impressed with the scammer’s work. They were very good, he added. I thought you might want to know what happened so you’ll be on the lookout.
I know the photographs below are a jumbled mess, but I still wanted you to see them.
Don't be stupid like me. I have a friend whose father-in-law lost $207,000 two years ago to a scam just like this one, and he never recovered a cent.
1. Look at the text below. Who the hell is Hembrose Fender? I don't know anyone by that name and I still opened the text.
2. Thank you for your order--9059492317. I don't have the slightest idea what that is all about, but I was still stupid enough to open it.
3. Oh, and 15 Sep, 2023. We don't write dates like that. No one does, but I opened it anyway.
4. "Ring Us," again we don't say that, but I opened it anyway.
5. And look at the way the scammer wrote the phone number. That is another Red Flag, but I opened it anyway.
6. Don't be stupid like me. Just because it's all been cleared up, if it hadn't been lucky and the beneficiary of good timing, I could have been out a lot of money like my friends father-in-law. I came super close. The Apple guy said when you see a text like this one DON'T OPEN IT. Move it to the trash and then delete the trash. Good advice.