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Scammers drain woman’s lifesavings after she tried to make Etsy return


A Northern California woman lost her life savings during heart surgery after being directed to a fake customer service number when she tried to return an Etsy purchase.

Tracy Jones was duped by so-called “number spoofing,” where fraudsters pretend to be a trusted brand and then convince victims to part with their money.

Jones called just as she was about to go to the hospital to have a stent put in her heart and only found out after the surgery that she had been conned. She lost outright $5,000 – and later had her entire bank account emptied.

The Northern California resident attempted to return some grill baskets from Etsy that arrived crushed and damaged before becoming embroiled in an elaborate gift card scam.

She googled a number for Etsy’s customer service and the best result turned up a fake number.

Scammers told Jones to download an app that would give them control over her phone before telling her she had been hacked and buying $5,000 worth of Apple and Target gift cards to stop the hackers

After calling the number, a man on the phone told her to download an app to process the refund. But the app was actually designed to give hackers full access to her phone, which was then scanned for her bank account and PIN numbers.

Meanwhile, scammers also convinced her to buy $5,000 worth of gift cards.

She said ABC7“While we were talking, he said, ‘Looks like you’ve been hacked.

“Someone tried to use my account to buy an iPhone and iPads.”

The fraudster instructed her to buy Apple gift cards, claiming that the numbers on the back would block the hack. He added that he would deposit money into her account.

She said, “He sent me to Lowes first. He said, ‘I have deposited $1,000 into your account.

“And when you get the gift certificates, you have to sit in the car so you can use Lowes’ WiFi and you take a picture of the voucher.”

Jones then drove to nearby Lowes, Target, and Raley’s supermarkets. In all, she bought Apple and Target gift cards worth $5,000.

Meanwhile, the scammer texted her to say he had deposited money into her account – along with alleged transaction numbers.

As instructed, she scratched the backs of the gift cards, took photos of the numbers, and returned them to “the manager.”

When she went to the hospital to have surgery, she was told that the excitement hadn’t worked and she had to buy more tickets.

At that point she told them she couldn’t because she was about to have surgery.

Afterwards, she explained, “I stopped at the bank on my way home from the hospital. Then I found out… there was no money in my account.”

She added that it was “the worst day of my life.”

When ABC7 called the number, it still went through and a man answered and said ‘support’.

They were instructed to download an app called ‘AnyDesk’.

AnyDesk is a legitimate software program that allows someone to take control of your computer or phone.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data shows consumers lost nearly $8.8 billion to fraud by 2022, up 30 percent from the previous year

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data shows consumers lost nearly $8.8 billion to fraud by 2022, up 30 percent from the previous year

Jones thought she was talking to an Etsy customer service representative

Jones thought she was talking to an Etsy customer service representative

However, it is increasingly being exploited by scammers, as the technology can scan your computer for sensitive data such as bank accounts and PINs, and hand it over to fraudsters. AnyDesk warns against such scams on its website.

Separately, criminals also ask people to buy gift cards, as they generally offer less protection for buyers compared to other payment options

For example, if Jones had been transferring such large amounts between accounts, she would likely have received fraud alerts from her bank.

Once a victim forwards the numbers on the back of the card, they will use it to buy products directly online – before they even realize they’ve been scammed.

The FTC states that if someone calls and asks you to pay with gift cards, it’s definitely a scammer.

In these cases, they often specify exactly what you should buy the gift card for.

The scam number claiming to be Etsy has now been removed from Google, ABC7 reported.

Experts advise that you can tell a number is authentic if the URL starts with “https://”

When you click on the site, you will also see a small lock icon next to the URL.

Data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shows that consumers lost nearly $8.8 billion to fraud by 2022, up 30 percent from the previous year.

And Google has also come under fire for failing to counter so-called “lookalike websites” that masquerade as trusted brands and often appropriate them in search results.

FTC data shows that the most commonly reported category was impostor scams, with consumers losing more than $2.3 billion to them each year.

Dailymail.com reached out to Etsy, Google and AnyDesk for comment.

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