Victim lost $13,000 in recent case
Prescott AZ (December 16, 2020) – Earlier this month, a 72-year-old Prescott area resident reported that he was swindled out of more that $13,000 in what is commonly known as the ‘Microsoft Computer Repair Scam.’ ‘These tech support scams are an industry-wide issue where scammers use scare tactics to trick users into paying for unnecessary technical support services that supposedly fix contrived device, platform, or software problems.’ The victim paid for ‘services’ with gift cards.
Initial contact by these scammers can occur by phone, email or a webpage pop-up up alert.
The victim’s daughter called YCSO’s Fraud Intervention Team (FIT) and requested to meet the team with his father present to review the case and educate his father about the scam.
The FIT is overseen by Community Relations Coordinator Bryan Thomas and Volunteer in Protection, Ron Norfleet. During the meeting, the team learned the victim visited several stores in Prescott over 3 days, buying $13,000 in gift cards purportedly to pay for computer repairs by a so-called Microsoft representative.
As indicated in numerous prior media releases, paying for services with a gift card is almost always a scam. The use of gift cards allows the scammer immediate access to funds after directing the victim by phone to share the card number and security code. In most of the incidents, the victim is told to remain on the phone even while making gift card purchases. This allows the scammers to talk the victim out of any thought they are being scammed if confronted and then immediately obtain the gift card numbers.
During the meeting, the team made sure the victim and his family have reviewed his personal accounts to ensure they are locked down under a fraud alert status. The family was also told to have the victim’s computer professionally cleaned of any virus or malware issues before further use.
After obtaining a list of stores where the victim completed his gift card purchases, FIT Supervisor Thomas and VIP Norfleet went to those stores and provided background on the scam and monetary loss to this victim. The team also requested that store managers educate employees on the signs a customer may be involved in a scam as they are the first line of defense to protect the victim from loss.
The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the following businesses for their concern and cooperation to prevent further scams to our residents.
Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy, Walmart, Fry’s Markets, Family Dollar and Dollar General.
In many of these stores and others around the county, the team has been allowed to place ‘STOP’ signs (see the photo) at gift card displays providing an opportunity for a victim to re-think their purchase. The team is also working on a pocket-sized informational card that clerks can provide to customers during gift card purchases if they determine a scam is in progress.
Note – Most of the targeted victims are seniors and it was reiterated to businesses that such a customer is likely involved in a scam if they are purchasing a large amount of gift cards for some type of payment while remaining on a cell phone call. This particular victim would spend several hundred dollars during a single purchase of gift cards while on the phone with the suspect.
A detailed overview of the scam is available at this link –
The FIT hotline number is 928-771-3299. If you have lost money in a scam, report the incident to your local police or Sheriff’s Office. The FIT crew will be glad to provide answers to general questions and follow-up with victims to ensure it only happens once.