DENVER (KDVR) — Staggering numbers from the Federal Trade Commission reveal scam victims lost more than $8 billion in 2022, a 30% increase over the year before.
Meanwhile, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation has recovered more than $4.2 million in money stolen through scams and is currently working with banks to stop scam organizers from doing more damage.
Jo Anna DeMarrais told the Problem Solvers she received an email that looked like it was from a popular tech repair service asking her to call them to stop a $495 auto-renewal.
“It was so authentic,” she said.
The scammer said he accidentally made the charge anyway, even providing realistic-looking documents, but all DeMarrais had to do was allow them to refund the money to her credit card.
“He had identified himself as a refund officer with the company, so I believed it. The scammer told me over and over again that he’d be losing his job because of this mistake he made, and he would really like me to help him because he’s the sole breadwinner for the family,” DeMarrais said.
The imposter then hacked into her account and eventually transferred more than $14,000 into another account.
“I did not authorize anything,” DeMarrais said.
Tech scammers getting more sophisticated
Jason Hebrard, agent in charge of CBI’s High Tech Crimes Unit, told the Problem Solvers new technology is opening the door for more sophisticated scam operations.
“How these guys are leveraging their scams with the population in Colorado is online sales,” Hebrard said.
Scammers use a technique called social engineering to collect and piece together information about their victims to allow them to hack accounts. Many impersonate legitimate and trusted businesses.
“There’s a lot of name recognition there, and then what ends up happening is you’re not dealing with that company that’s sponsoring this activity, you’re just dealing with the scammer,” Hebrard said.
The Problem Solvers reached out to Wells Fargo regarding DeMarrais’ case. She said she has since received calls from Wells Fargo and is happy to know the crime is being investigated.
“As a senior citizen on a fixed income, it’s been very difficult for me to pick up the pieces,” DeMarrais said.
Protect yourself against scams
The CBI told FOX31 that social engineering scams are also used to sell stolen cars and counterfeit tickets to concerts. The CBI recovered 98% of stolen funds in 2017, equaling more than $4 million.
Wells Fargo provided FOX31 with tips for protecting against common scams. They remind consumers that scammers can spoof their caller ID number and use bits of your personal information to convince you to reveal your verification code and steal your money, so never give your account information or verification codes to anyone you don’t know or a company you can’t confirm as legitimate.
All scams should be reported to stopfraudcolorado.gov.
Your bank will never ask you to send money to anyone, including yourself, to reverse a transfer, receive a refund or anything similar.