In less than two weeks, a scammer got into a Johnson County man’s computer, then got into his bank accounts and stole about $60,000.
Now, local police have asked the FBI to investigate and are once again warning residents not to fall for scams.
The scam began about two weeks ago, when a man got a phone call from someone named Johnson. Johnson said he had been made aware of a virus on the man’s computer and could remove it for $200.
In order to clean the computer, the resident was told he would need to give Johnson access to his computer. After getting directions over the phone, a new icon appeared on his computer screen and the resident could see someone else was controlling his computer, according to a Johnson County Sheriff’s Office report.
A few days later, the resident was asked to pay another $200 for more work to his computer. In the end, the man paid $700 for work on his computer. He made a report to Franklin police, according to the sheriff’s office report.
But the next report came from the man’s bank and involved transfers of more than $60,000 from a home equity credit line he had previously opened.
The scammers had been able to access the man’s bank accounts online and linked his checking account to his home equity line, the report said.
Then, the scammers transferred money from the man’s credit line into his checking account. Johnson would tell the resident that his company had placed its money into his account and needed the money to be transferred back, the report said. The resident then put more than $29,000 into wire transfers and more than $30,000 into two separate bank accounts, the report said.
Sheriff Doug Cox said the resident was working with his bank to get the money back, and the sheriff’s office has contacted the FBI due to the amount of money lost and because the scam involved the man’s computer.
The FBI will have more expertise, and the scammers likely aren’t in Indiana, or even in the U.S., Cox said. But he isn’t sure yet if the FBI would get involved, he said.
Cox is warning residents not to fall victim to similar scams. If something sounds odd or sounds too good to be true, it likely is, he said.
“I hate seeing these things,” Cox said. “By now, I was hoping we would be getting to people, that they would quit falling for them.”
One trend Cox has noticed is the longer victims stay on the phone with the scammers, the more convinced they are that the scam is legit, Cox said.
If someone tells you about a computer problem you didn’t know you had, then that is likely a scam. And the likelihood of you winning a lottery or sweepstakes is slim, he said.
Cox advises people to do their research. Search online for the name of the company or the phone number the caller is using, and if it is a scam, that will likely show up online, he said. If someone offers to do work at your home, ask for references, he said.
“People just need to start thinking before they act,” he said.