The family of a Hillsboro man who was scammed out of $6,012 said they were told by local police that three other local residents were also taken for undetermined amounts in similar recent incidents.
The family, who The Times-Gazette chose not to identify, went into detail about entire situation. They stressed that the man was not a gullible person. He was on Humana Medicare and his family said they got a letter announcing a data breach, and that made them wonder whether that might be where the scammers got the man’s information.
“I mean, people need to know what information is taken so we can hold that company accountable for this money and it happened,” a family member said. ”I know (they) did this willingly, but it is like with a gun to (their) head… There’s no way we’re going to be able to go to Humana and prove that the hack that happened was them, even if they know it is, and we’ll never recoup anything. People should be able to hold companies accountable if they get hacked… I guess my point is accountability, and there’s no accountability right now.”
They family said local residents, especially the elderly, should know the government will never call. Instead, the government will start with a letter and then may callm. The family also said if you get a call that sounds like fraud, hang up and call the IRS or Social Security and ask them about the same situation. They also said to be aware of picking up the phone, even if it is an 800 number.
They said their specific situation started by the person getting a call at around 9 a.m. on March 26 from someone saying they were from Social Security and that there was a warrant out for their arrest due to people running drugs with their Social Security number. The scammers had this person’s full name, address, phone number and the make and model of his car. He was told he was not allowed to hang up unless told to.
To get out of the situation, the said the man had to follow their instructions. They said local law enforcement would give them a cashier’s check to reimburse the scammed person. The man was allowed to hang up to call his credit card companies to find out the card limits, then they had to call back and keep his phone line open and put it in a chest pocket so the scammers could hear what he was saying as well as coach him on what to say in certain situations. The man then had to go to the bank and drain the accounts, except for $100 in each one.
After withdrawing money, the man went to stores including Walmart, Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens and Lowe’s to get Visa gift cards with Nike packaging and Target gift cards. He was required to scratch off the back of the cards when he got to the car and tell the scammers the numbers. Their credit cards were denied a few times because of the number of places and money the man was required to withdraw.
The last purchase he made was later that night at 7 p.m., meaning he was on the phone from 10 hours. He was told to not do anything on his phone and to call immediately when he woke up the next morning. The scammers called the next morning and had the man purchase $3,000 worth of Target gift cards at Lowe’s the next day.
The manager at Lowe’s asked why he buying so much, but due to the scammers listening in, he was afraid to answer truthfully. The scammers coached him to say he was having a party.
“When he would leave the business, they would say you did a good job, but next time say this if they ask this,” the family members said.
The family members said they spoke to the manager after learning about the scam and said the scammers were listening in on the conversation.
The situation ended at a local bank. When the man got there, someone took the phone from him and asked to meet with the scammers, causing them to hang up. The number was no longer in service when they tried to call back.
“He said, ‘I’ve been through a lot of things in my life, but I have never been so scared as I was that day and upset.’ He said, ‘I could have had a heart attack.’ He said the he was so agitated and upset that he couldn’t even sign his name at the bank, his hands were shaking so bad,” the family members said.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.