A Southern California family is warning others after their elderly father was apparently scammed out of $20,000.
“It’s devastating to me because I know they’re doing this to a lot more people,” said the victim’s daughter.
The victim’s daughter does not want her family’s name to be published.
She tells us that her 83-year-old father purchased a cyber protection package from InstaFix US LLC for $900 in April.
Six months later, he received a call from someone claiming to work at the same company, telling him they were going out of business and he would receive a refund.
“I think all my dad could see was that he got his $900 back. He never questioned the fact that a company that goes out of business will give him money back. “Not to mention, a company that goes out of business will give him money back and a full refund six months later,” the daughter said.
She said her father gave the person access to his computer and Bank of America accounts through a code.
A cybersecurity expert explains that the victim apparently gave the scammers control of his computer via remote desktop.
“A common way criminals sometimes get into your system is by using something called a remote desktop, which allows them to gain access to your desktop,” said Professor Clifford Neuman, director of the USC Center for Computer Systems Security. “You can see what’s on the desktop. You can make changes to your system. Typically this requires you as the user to enable this access through some things that you type on your computer yourself.”
First, a test transfer of $200 was made. However, the suspect claimed that he accidentally transferred $20,000 to his victim.
“And the man goes, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God,’ in a big panic: ‘Oh, I gave you too much money! I’m fired,'” the daughter said.
Her father wanted to help and was desperate to give the man the money back, but his daughter said it was her father’s money.
“They actually transferred money from my dad’s checking account to my dad’s savings account. My father wasn’t aware enough to realize it was coming from his own bank,” the daughter said.
The thieves persuaded their victim to withdraw cash in two smaller amounts at two separate branches.
Dad said they walked him through the entire process over the phone and within minutes a man showed up at the family’s door to collect the money.
The victim’s wife was skeptical about the whole thing, tried to stop her husband and took these photos with her cell phone.
“He didn’t listen and was happy to pass the money on, unfortunately he didn’t know it was his own money,” said the daughter.
Eyewitness News reached out to Instafix US, who responded with an email:
“To confirm that we are a reputable company that helps many customers with computer problems, we only charge each customer by legitimate means such as a credit card or check in our company name. We do not ask customers to send money through any other means otherwise. We therefore have no information about the fraud the customer was exposed to.”
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigated this case as a felony.
Bank of America reviewed the matter and urged customers to watch out for warning signs like a phone call, email or text message that played on their emotions and urged someone to take immediate action: It’s probably a scammer.
The victim said a week after the incident, he was still receiving calls from the same numbers and simply ignored them.