RPD: Beware pop-up ad scam, woman out $118,000
(ABC 6 News) – A Rochester woman lost $118,000 in an October scam, police report.
According to the Capt. Casey Moilanen with the RPD, the 68-year-old noticed a pop-up ad on her computer Oct. 10, which said her system had a virus and included an 800 number.
The woman called the number, and a scammer pretending to be an IT professional said they could remove the virus from her computer if given access to her computer — but they had found funds and Chinese gambling accounts on her system in the meantime.
The scammer told the woman she would be arrested if she was associated with the gambling funds, and told her she needed to move the money to a “secure location.”
According to Moilanen, the scammer pretended to communicate with the woman’s bank.
The woman told law enforcement that she began with a $6,000 withdrawal and deposit into the scammers’ account Oct. 10, followed by $27,00 on Oct. 16, $55,000 on Oct. 21 which she mailed to an address in Colorado, and $30,000, which she deposited into a Bitcoin machine in Albert Lea on Nov. 6.
The woman was initially told to deposit all of the money into Bitcoin machines, Moilanen said — an obvious red flag.
The Rochester woman is unlikely to recover any of the money, Moilanen said.
Moilanen said another scam was prevented on Nov. 9.
According to Moilanen, a staffer at the Holiday station on 4th Street SE noticed an older man at the Bitcoin station who was likely being scammed.
The staffer called Rochester police, who spoke to the 64-year-old Rochester man.
The man had no idea how to use the Bitcoin machine, Moilanen said, and was on the phone with someone who was clearly walking him through a transaction.
Eventually, a police officer convinced the man to hang up on the scammer, and the man said the scammer had claimed to be securing his computer from malware, then talked the man into removing $12,400 from his accounts and putting it into a Bitcoin digital wallet belonging to the scammer.
The man had not succeeded in using the Bitcoin machine, so he did not lose money, Moilanen said.
Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Tim Parkin previously recommended that seniors who want advice or support before or after a scam call the elder fraud hotline at 833-372-8311.
Rochester senior center 125 LIVE will also host a $20 Scam Prevention workshop Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 2 p.m.