CHICAGO (CBS) – An elderly citizen lost $ 11,000 to a scammer who convinced him to wander around town buying gift cards.
Well, as CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported Monday morning, the victim wants you to hear their story to prevent you from falling for a similar scam.
“I was very embarrassed,” said Mick McNeil.
Twenty-two gift cards were distributed on the McNeils table when McNicholas spoke to them. But there is nothing left to do with these gift cards.
“I hate to use the term gullibly,” said McNeil, “but in this case I guess it was me.”
It all started last Wednesday morning when McNeil received an email – apparently from Amazon – saying that someone had bought a $ 1,000 television through his account.
He called the number in the email to say it wasn’t him and was connected to a guy named John in the fraud department.
“He said,” Your system, you have been hacked – someone has leaked your identity, “said McNeil.
John convinced McNeil to go to Target, buy several gift cards, and then read the numbers on the back.
“He said, ‘You will be reimbursed, and he said this is how we’re going after these hackers,” McNeil said. “He didn’t really explain and I think he’s the Amazon scammer and I am not.”
Five hours and four stores later, McNeil had bought over $ 11,000 worth of gift cards. He even got a bogus bill saying they would pay him back.
Why was it so convincing?
“I think it was just his way of speaking at part,” said McNeil. “They were on my side and that’s what it felt like.”
After a while, McNeil said he felt he was on a mission to fix the problem – so as not to fall victim to identity theft. He was so in the zone that his family couldn’t reach him.
“I said, ‘Well, he’s got OnStar – let me call her,” said McNeil’s wife, Linda McNeil.
She said it could have been worse, but she could call the car through OnStar.
“He said, ‘He got me on the phone, I’ve been buying gift cards all day,” said Linda McNeil. “The moment I heard’ gift cards ‘I said,’ Come home, you’ve been hacked.”
“This is a big problem – billions of dollars are being lost,” said William Kresse, also known as Professor Fraud.
Kresse said scammers like gift cards because they’re almost undetectable.
“They want to keep you posted, keep you hooked, keep buying the gift card – but not big enough for retailers to notice and warn you,” he said.
We tried calling the two numbers Mick McNeil used to speak to the scammers. Both appeared to be separated just days after the betrayal.
“The biggest thing I probably felt was that I cheated on my wife. that I spent a lot of money on something that didn’t help either of us, ”he said.
Fraud experts say that whenever someone requests gift card payment, it is always a scam. It’s a lesson Mick McNeil learned the hard way.
Upon further verification, the scammers made the initial email look like it was from Amazon, but in reality it wasn’t. The McNeils tried to see if their bank could cancel the charges, but unfortunately not – since Mick McNeil was the one who bought the cards.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, gift cards are a popular tool for scammers because McNeil has learned that if someone spends the money on a card, you are unlikely to get them back. The FTC says again that every time someone requests payment with a gift card, it is a scam.
Gift card fraud is so widespread that Best Buy is producing a video to warn consumers, telling them to “help spread the word. Help stop the scam. “
Walgreens posts signs about the dangers in their stores and has warnings about gift card fraud on its website.
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