There's never a good time to be scammed. But now, when so many people are sick or out of work, losing money can feel even worse.
One Arizona woman is telling her story to help the rest of us.
Anne got an email from PayPal, saying that her Norton Antivirus software was renewing. She had a free trial, so the email made sense, but the cost did not.
They had charged her $517.
"I didn't want the antivirus, so I called the number on the email," Anne says.
That was her big mistake.
Anne says the man answering was very nice and professional. He told her there was no problem to return the money to her bank account. He just needed access to make the transfer. She gave him the information.
Once inside her account, the man showed Anne what he was doing remotely on her computer screen. She says she saw the $517 debit. And she saw the man transfer money back into the account. But then something happened. "Boom, a zero popped into it," she says.
Instead of $500+, it appeared he refunded her $5,000! The man tells her they can't take back the $4,500 extra money from her account. He says Anne needs to go to her bank and make a money transfer. She tries to do that, but the bank won't allow it, thinking it's a scam.
At this point, Anne says she doesn't know what to believe. But she's panicked and is only thinking of getting that money back to him and having all of it end.
"I thought, well, the $4,500 didn't belong to me. I'll do what he tells me to do," she says.
The man tells her to send $4,500 in cash to a Fremont, California, address using UPS. So, still thinking she has their money, she sends it. That's when Anne says she came out of her daze. She realized it was a scam and called UPS. She says she got some good news.
"The package has been intercepted and will not be delivered. I thought, oh, thank you, God," Anne remembers.
But it was short-lived. She says the package was delivered anyway, and she lost $4,500. She says she told her story to keep all of us from the same fate. Even if you never think it would happen to you, once you're involved in a scam, it's hard not to continue in order to get out.
UPS did not get back to us before publishing time.
Bottom line: never click on email links or talk with unknown callers. Instead, reach the business through contacts you know are legitimate. Never give your bank account information to someone you don't trust. And never allow anyone into your computer remotely.
If you’ve been scammed, email firstname.lastname@example.org.