CONVINCED VICTIM: DON’T SEND CASH!
ONEONTA – An employee at the Oneonta UPS store on Southside helped stop a victim from sending thousands of dollars to what turned out to be a scam artist, according to Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond.
DuMond’s department was contacted by an elderly bank customer who had responded to a pop-up notification on their computer, stating that the machine was in need of repair.
When the “mark” responded, the scammer was able to gain control of the computer’s operating system, and convince the victim to share personal financial account information, allowing access to the victim’s financial account on-line, then locking and restricting the victim’s access to the computer.
The perpetrator then conned the victim into believing that a sum of money had been deposited into the victim’s bank account before directing the victim to make a cash withdrawal of those funds from the bank account. The victim was instructed to ship the cash, via UPS Express Overnight delivery, to an address in San Diego County, California, and immediately provide the scammer with the UPS tracking number.
“Sadly, the victim withdrew the cash from their bank account late last week and shipped it to the identified address; the cash to never be seen again,” DuMond wrote in the press release.
The victim was later re-contacted by another con artist who instructed the victim to withdraw additional cash and ship it to an address in Las Vegas, Nevada. The victim then withdrew additional cash from the bank earlier this week to ship to the Las Vegas address.
However, when the victim took the package to the UPS Store on Southside, the employee recognized the victim as having sent a similar package last week. After a brief conversation, he learned that the customer was sending cash and immediately informed the customer that they were the victim of scam, not to send the package and to report the scam to law enforcement.
“The employee saved the victim from the certain loss of thousands of dollars more,” said DuMond. “He certainly is a hero.”
The employee declined to be recognized, according to DuMond.
Delaware County Sheriff’s Investigators subsequently contacted Detectives at the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office in California, who determined that the parcel containing the cash had been delivered to an unidentified subject at the delivery address. The delivery location was determined to be an unoccupied residence utilized as an AirBNB. Further investigation revealed the Las Vegas address was also advertised as an AirBNB.
While this investigation remains on-going by Delaware County Sheriff’s Investigators and San Diego County Sheriff’s Office Detectives, unfortunately, like in most cases of this nature, it is very unlikely that this victim’s money will ever be recovered.
The scam, DuMond said, is a classic example of what is known as a “Tech Support Scam” where the perpetrators pose as technology support representatives and offer to fix non-existent computer issues—gaining remote access to victims’ devices and, thus, their sensitive information. These perpetrators often initiate their contact from obscure, foreign locations and utilize unwitting and transient “re-shippers” and leave little evidence which would lead to their apprehension or the recovery of the stolen funds.
Sheriff DuMond strongly encourages the public to always remain vigilant for scams and learn about the ever changing types of scams, whether they are on-line scams, telephone, lottery or mail scams. Sheriff DuMond also reminds the public that they should never ship cash by U.S. Postal Service or any other means and to contact the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office or local law enforcement if they have concerns that they may be the target of a scam or identity theft.
Additionally, educational materials, including a guide for what to do if you have been scammed and on-line complaint forms, are available to the public through the New York State Office of the Attorney General, https://ag.ny.gov/internet/common-online-scams; the Federal Trade Commission, https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx