CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Jim Getts lost $5,000 to scammers who posed as Yahoo! support staff. Nearly a week after it happened, he said he’s still shocked.
“People say it doesn’t happen to me…well, it happened to me,” he said outside of the Cape Coral Police Department moments after filing a report.
It all started when he went on the internet looking for a customer support number to help him with his Yahoo email account. But the number he called led him to a scammer pretending to work for Yahoo. The scammer lied and said hackers had gotten into his account and told Getts he should give him his bank info.
“So, can you look in your bank account and make sure nothing’s missing?” Getts said the scammer said to him.
Then, the scammer told Getts to catch the hackers, he should lure them back by putting more money in his account, in the form of Target gift cards. The scammer told him to buy five $1,000 gift cards. Totaling $5,000.
Then the hacker manipulated Gett’s computer to make it look like the value of gift cards was deposited in his account. He had doubts, but talked himself out of them. “I’m thinking well, I initiated this. They’re going into my computer. I did get into my bank account and they added the money right there,” he said.
Scammers kept Getts on the phone for two hours. Even while he bought the gift cards at Target.
Fraud examiner Paul Guyton with Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office said it doesn’t matter if they call you or you call them. As soon as they ask for payments in gift cards, hang up. “The longer they’re engaged in conversation, the more opportunity there is to sway them and bring them back in line for the exploitation to occur.” Said Guyton.
He said scammers like the one in this case.know their stores too! For example, they knew not to ask for more than $5,000 worth of gift cards from Target, because the chain won't sell people more than that amount at one time.
“The bad guys know…They know the store’s protocol. They know the denomination of which gift cards should be purchased or I should say the amounts. They know their business,” said Guyton.
A Target spokesperson released this statement regarding the scam:
At Target, we take a multi-layered, comprehensive approach to preventing theft and fraud that includes partnerships with local law enforcement, technology and team member training.
We are aware of the prevalence of scams like these and have signage in our stores, and share general safety tips with our team members, so they can stay alert and help guests as best as they can at the registers.
Getts said he’s learned his lesson in all of this and hopes others can learn from his mistake, too. “I tell people don’t fall for these things. That’s why I’m saying you never know when they’re going to get you,” he said.
He was only able to recover $75 out of the $5,000 that was stolen.
Guyton also said scammers will divert calls to company lines to their personal phones. Fox 4 reached out to Yahoo to ask if this was the case here and have not heard back as of Monday night.