How I was conned and manipulated by unscrupulous money mules online.
|I've been ripped off!
This is my account of how I was conned, manipulated, and victimized by unscrupulous computer technicians support personnel online. (They have foreign accents and foreign names. Or adopting Western names for cover.) Here is the historical background of the traumatic ordeal these money mules put me through three weeks ago.
On June 25, 2018, I sought help from the Microsoft Help Section regarding the slowness of my internet. Multiplex Technologies readily offered to help. Believing they were working for Microsoft; I willingly accepted the offer. They spent more than a couple of hours fixing the slowness problem and recommended ways to improve my experience. This initial session costs me $749.99. Before the transaction completed, I was advised to call every three months for follow-up, making sure my computer performed at its peak.
On Sept. 18, 2018, Dean Winchester (the technician handling my computer maintenance) called because I neglected to call as advised. This time, he convinced me my computer needed cleaning and installing security and I allowed him to do it. This costs me $579.99 which was received by his manager named Fazil Majid. My receipt shows a copy was provided to Cloudtech24x7@gmail.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
On January 17, 2019, Dean Winchester called again to follow-up as I did not initiate the call. I was weary of the amount of money I was being charged each time I talked to him. We talked and again he convinced me I needed more protection for my computer. This time it costs me $549.99 which was accepted by Fazil Majid like the previous transaction.
In August of 2019, I took my PC to Staples where I bought it from when I was experiencing more problems. I decided not to go back to Dean Winchester because it was costing me a lot of money each time I talk to him. Staples charged me $354.73 for a 2yr virus shield protection and Matrix Dfag w/Repair. I was advised not to talk to any other technicians outside of Staples.
When Dean started calling again, I ignored his calls and blocked him.
Then I get text messages telling me charges were made to my credit card but were declined. Pleased it was declined each time, I deleted the messages. At one point when I received one of these annoying messages, I responded to tell them to cancel because I do not need their services any longer.
Then recently I received a threatening message that if I do not respond, a warrant of arrest will be issued against me, supposedly because the charges made were not paid by me! This is the message from 737-238-4389: "We have received suspicious trails of information in your name. The moment you receive this message, get back to me on my department toll-free #737-238-4389. I repeat 737-238-4389. Verify the last 4 digits of your Social Security# when you call to better assist you with this issue. Now if we don't hear from you, we will issue an arrest warrant under your name and get you... (unintelligible...)., so get back to me as soon as possible. Thank you.” The caller who left the message did not identify herself or the firm she was representing.
After receiving the same threatening call a couple more times, I left a voicemail message. I said, "I don't know what you are after me for. I have done nothing wrong to warrant my arrest. Go ahead and issue whatever warrant of arrest you are cooking up. I'm here. Come and get me." Or something to that effect. I did not hear from that caller again.
But two weeks ago, on Sept 15, 2020, I received another call. Because I did not pick up the phone, I heard a voice saying, " Your subscription has expired. We are charging your credit card $500. Call back if you do not want this charge on your credit card." Or something to that effect.
That got my attention, and I returned the call. I told the responder I did not want their service and I want the service canceled which I have already done before. He represented himself as Kevin Wilson from Premium Tech Support – Any Desk. EmployeeID#2028-108-KNF with phone# 657-206-4041. Sounds legitimate, right? He then told me to go to my computer because the cancellation process takes a lot of steps. So, I turned my computer on, and he walked me through how to cancel the service. But he was taking me round and round, offering other services. I said, I just need to cancel the service altogether. He then turned me over to his manager by the name of Hardeep Bohara. This time the manager said, they are going to give me a refund of $500. and explained that because they are a business entity and I am a personal/private client, there is a restriction on the amount they can send. This means they must wire $2000 to my bank account but because they only owe me $500, I must send back the $1500 to them. He asked me for my bank account number and routing number. I hesitantly gave it but thought I need my $500 back. In a matter of minutes, I saw $2000 deposited in my checking account. In discussing how they are going to get their $1500 back from me, he asked me for my SS# in order to return the $1500 to them by Quick Pay. At this point, I refused to give them my SS# and I was arguing with the Manager in my refusal. I have heard enough about Identity Thief and we should not give our SS# to anybody.
At this point, Kevin Wilson (also goes by Williams, I found out later) begged me to comply with what he is asking me to do because he can be fired if the $1500 is lost. "My life is in your hands," he says. "Please I beg you to do this for me."
He really played into my emotions but because I refused to give him my SS#, he suggested an alternative. He told me to go to Target and get 3 gift cards for $500 each. This must be done right away. The pressure was so intense, I went to Target and attempted to get 3 gift cards; but, there was a limit of $1000 Target can give per day, so I was able to get 2 cards only. I came home and continued our transaction. He had me scratch the card to find the code and gave them to him. Meanwhile, because I was short of $500, he instructed me to go out again to get one more card for $500. I went to Walmart and bought a gift card for $500. Fortunately for them and unfortunately for me, I had $500 cash in my wallet, so I had no problem getting it.
I came home and give the code of the card to him. Then he said there was a problem with the cards I bought from Target. He instructed me to call my SDCCU credit card to tell them to release the money. I could not talk to a live person to do this. So, he told me to go to CVS to get two Best Buy cards at $500 each. I am getting so flustered at this point and told him he might wait until the next day because I have other important errands to do. This simple cancellation is taking my whole day! He said, “It cannot wait until tomorrow. Other people are waiting for their refunds as well.”
Now, I am in a bind. I have no $1000 cash to get the cards because money exchangers will only accept cash or debit cards for these kinds of transactions. Then, it dawned on me, there is $2000 they deposited in my bank right now, I can withdraw that money and buy the gift cards from CVS.
So, I went to my bank to withdraw enough money to buy the cards. When I saw the balance on my receipt, there was only $200 left. So, I said to the teller, "Wasn't there a $2000 deposit early this morning?" She verified the transactions for the day and said there was no activity at all. "I'll take you to the Fraud Dept. You've been scammed.”
When I talked to the bank representative, he indicated a transaction showed I made a QuickPay withdrawal in favor of a Hardeep Bohara for $920.78 cents but because it was suspicious, it was declined. I told him I did not make such transaction and thanked him for catching it.
The bank rep helped me straighten out my bank account, changing my email and password. When I got home, Hardeep Bohara was adamant I give him the $1000. This time I told him,” I owe you nothing. You owe me $1500 instead. I went to the bank and there is no $2000 deposited this morning. You people manipulated me and tried to scam me for whatever you could bilk from me. This conversation is over."
He pleaded with me to hear him out; that the deposit was put on hold, but in five minutes it will show up in my checking account. Before I could hang up, he threatened me, saying, "I have access to your computer, your bank account, and your credit card. I'm locking you out of your computer.” I turned off my computer and hang up on him. I took my PC to Staples. It sat there for over a week because these scammers really put a number on it.
I got my computer back yesterday afternoon. And I am having difficulty restoring data from my external hard drive because I am not computer savvy. It is a total mess what trauma these hackers put me through.
My word of wisdom to all of you reading this: Beware of Coronavirus Scams, Phishing, Mobile Payment Apps, and Money Mules lurking around innocent and vulnerable people like you and me, waiting to devour their perfect prey. These scammers are proliferating in leaps and bounds. They sound so legitimate and credible until they get you hook, line and sinker!
P.S.: My daughter tried to contact this business, names, and phone numbers. They do not exist! My total loss is $3,379.97. They are laughing their way to riches and glory at our expense!