Delaware County Sheriff’s Office warns community about on-line computer repair scam

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From the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office:

Delhi, NY – Members of the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division are currently investigating an on-line computer repair scam that led to significant financial victimization of an elderly local resident.

On Tuesday morning, March 10, 2020, Delaware County Sheriff’s Investigators were contacted by The Delaware National Bank of Delhi and advised that an elderly bank customer had fallen victim to an on-line scam and lost thousands of dollars.

Investigation learned that the victim, who had been experiencing operational troubles with their home computer, responded to an on-line “pop-up” notification indicating the computer was in need of repair.  The victim subsequently responded to the “pop-up” and allowed the scammer to remote into and take control of the home computer’s operating system. 

The scammer further convinced the victim to share personal financial account information which allowed the subject to access the victim’s financial account on-line before 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.

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. Fortunately, an attentive employee of The UPS Store located on St. Hwy. 23, Oneonta, NY, recognized the victim as the sender of a package late last week.  After a brief conversation, the UPS employee learned that the customer was sending cash and immediately informed the unsuspecting victim that they were the victim of scam, not to send the package and to report the scam to law enforcement. 

In this case, the employee saved the victim from the certain loss of thousands of dollars more.

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.

This despicable scam, and the financial exploitation of this elderly victim, 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 Craig 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.

The public can learn more about how to protect themselves and their loved ones, especially our vulnerable elderly population, from these unscrupulous thieves. 

A wealth of invaluable 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

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