Online scammers trick OC man into handing over $20,000 in person

Jessica De Nova Image
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Online scammers trick OC man into handing over $20K
A Southern California family is warning others after their elderly father was apparently scammed of $20,000.

A Southern California family is warning others after their elderly father was apparently scammed of $20,000.

"It's devastating to me because I know they're out there doing it to a lot more people," the victim's daughter said.

The daughter of the victim does not want her family's name publicized.

She tells us back in April, her 83-year-old father purchased a cyber protection package from InstaFix US LLC for $900.

Six months later he got a call from someone claiming to be with the same company saying they were going out of business and he was getting a refund.

"I think all my dad could see was that he was getting his $900 back. He never even questioned the fact that a company going out of business is gonna give him back money. Let alone, a company going out of business is gonna give him a full refund six months later," the daughter said.

She said her dad gave the person access to his computer through a code and to his accounts with Bank of America.

A cyber security expert explains the victim apparently gave the scammers control of his computer via remote desktop.

"A common way that criminals sometimes get into your system is by using what is called remote desktop where they gain access to your desktop," said professor Clifford Neuman, director of the USC Center for Computer Systems Security. "They're able to see what's on the desktop. They're able to make changes to your system. Usually, this requires that you as the user enable that access through some things that you type on your computer itself."

First, came a test transfer of $200. But the suspect claimed he accidentally transferred $20,000 to his victim.

"And the man says, 'Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh,' in a big panic, 'Oh I gave you too much money! I'm gonna get fired,'" the daughter said.

Wanting to help, her dad was eager to get the money back to that man, but his daughter said it was her father's own money.

"What they did was actually transfer money from my father's checking account to my father's own savings account. My dad wasn't aware enough to notice that it was coming from his own bank," the daughter said.

The thieves convinced their victim to go to two separate branches to withdraw the cash in two smaller amounts.

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 get the money.

Skeptical of the entire thing, the victim's wife tried to stop her husband and took these photos on her cell phone.

"He didn't listen and he was very happy to give that money over, unfortunately, not knowing that it was his own money," the daughter said.

Eyewitness News reached out to Instafix US which responded with an email saying:

"To confirm we are a Legitimate company helping a lot of customers with computer-related issues and we only charge any customer using a legitimate way like a credit card or check on our Company Name. We don't ask customers to send money through anything else. so we have no information about the fraud that the customer encountered."

The Orange County Sheriff's Department was investigating this case as a crime.

Bank of America was reviewing the matter and asked customers to watch for red flags including a call, email or text playing with their emotions, pressuring someone to act immediately: It's likely a scammer.

The victim said the week after this all happened he was still getting calls from the same numbers and he was just ignoring them.