KILLEEN, Texas (FOX 44) — A Texas woman is warning people about the dangers of scam artists after crooks tricked her out of $75,000.
The 72-year-old was hit with a series of scams and once those scammers collected enough information, they knew exactly what to do to scare her.
“It’s all gone,” Karen Koehler said.
It all started with a phone call. A man said he could install McAfee on Koehler’s computer, which she needed.
But after he got into her computer, everything went downhill.
She then got a message from “Amazon” saying her account had been hacked, and she needed to call a certain number to fix it.
“As I started talking to him, he said, oh, just a minute, we’ve got a problem,” Koehler said. “I have the Federal Trade Commission on the phone, and they need to speak with you immediately.”
To solve that “problem”, she got transferred to “Chris” who claimed to be an FBI agent, then a woman claiming to be Lina Kahn, the actual chairperson of the FTC.
“I believed them,” Koehler said. “And it was just a fear factor.”
The scammers knew everything about Koehler, including her surgery just two days before, and they used everything they knew against her.
“She sent me a picture by email of my arrest warrant, but she told me I had to destroy it because the FBI knew they had warned me,” Koehler said. “Then they’ll come get me right now, she said.”
The woman pretending to be Lina Khan said her money was black money, and the bank was selling drugs and laundering money through her social security number. If she didn’t clean her money, she would lose everything and even be arrested.
“She said are you going to let your country down because you won’t follow our instructions? I am who I am. Look me up. I’m Lina Kahn. I’m from the federal trade commission. Look me up. I’ll have you call Chris. He’s the FBI agent,” Koehler said.
Out of fear, she withdrew her money against the advice of her bank and her financial advisors because she was told they were in on it too.
She then wired some money and sent more in packages as she was told.
She believes her computer and phone are bugged so badly now that she can’t use them. She tried multiple times to get new credit cards, but the scammers gained access before she even got the cards in the mail.
“They’re on me,” Koehler said. “They’re with me all the time.”
The U.S. assistant attorney in charge of cybersecurity, Michael Galdo, says there are all types of scams happening in our district, so be vigilant.
“It’s really impacted our district,” Galdo said.
Although she is left with nothing, she hopes her story can help others.
“It’s the best you can do,” Koehler said. “You just go on. You just go on, and they won’t make me give up. They don’t make me give up. I’ll just go on.”
Galdo said a lot of scammers pretend to be from organizations or institutions that people normally trust like the social security commission or a charity, so go online and check what the real contact information is for that institution.
Another red flag is urgency. Saying something is due now. He says that’s almost never the case with a real institution.
Also, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
He says don’t be afraid to ask for help and get a second opinion if you’re in doubt.
The Elder Fraud Prevention Hotline is 1-833-372-8311, and it will send you to the Department of Justice office of victims of crime.
Click here for the FBI internet crime complaint center if you have been scammed online.
It will send that information to a local FBI office.
Click here for tips on what to look out for when it comes to scammers.
Click here for more tips on scammers and to report a scammer.
The FTC will also send free brochures on tips and advice if you submit a request.