In a sad story out of Elmwood Park, Illinois,Jamil Quandah lost his entire life savings when scammers convinced Quandah to give them remote access to his bank account and Home Equity Credit Line which they promptly drained leaving Quandah penniless. The scam started with a phone call from a scammer posing as an employee of Avast, a popular security software company. The scammer told Quandah that due to the Coronavirus, the company could not continue to provide services to him and that they would be refunding him $500. The scammers then told him that they had mistakenly refunded thousands of dollars into his account and therefore needed to get remote access to his bank account in order to withdraw the excess amount “mistakenly” sent to him. Quandah fell for the scam and provided them remote access to his account whereupon they emptied all of his bank accounts. By the time Quandah realized he had been scammed and reported it to his bank, the money had been already withdrawn from both his bank and the bank to which the scammers had the funds in Quandah’s account transferred.
Whenever you get a phone call, you can never be sure who is really contacting you. Even if your Caller ID indicates the call is legitimate, scammers can use a simple technique called “spoofing” to manipulate your Caller ID so that the call looks legitimate when it is not. It is highly unlikely that any company is going to call you to tell you that they are sending you a refund and even if one did you could not trust that the call was legitimate. If you did think it might be legitimate, you should still hang up and call the real company at a telephone number that you know is correct to determine the truth. In this case, it also doesn’t appear to make much sense that due to the pandemic, a security software company could no longer provide you with service. Finally, and most importantly, never give anyone remote access to your bank account by providing your username and password. In addition, you should have dual factor authentication on your online banking account so that even if someone got your username and password they could not access your account. Finally, even if everything the scammer said were true, there would be no reason for anyone to give the scammer remote access to their bank account. In that case the person being targeted could refund the money himself or herself without having to give access to the account to a stranger.
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