HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — A woman from Hershey lost more than $90,000 to a scam, according to the Pennsylvania State Police Harrisburg Patrol Unit.
Troopers say on Nov. 8 the 71-year-old woman clicked a spam message in her PayPal account. She also called the phone number in the email and was told that PayPal would “refund” her money, so she gave the scammer her bank account information.
On Nov. 9, the victim received $46,000 in her bank account — which, Troopers noted, was not an actual refund but was money transferred from her line of credit into her checking account without her knowledge. She was then told to send $45,400 to an account the unknown scammer gave her.
The woman sent the money but on Nov. 15, the scammer called the victim again and said they did not receive the money, instructing her to send $45,500 to a different bank account.
After the victim sent the second amount, she realized she was being scammed. According to State Police, the woman lost a total of $90,950 including wire transfer fees.
The Pennsylvania Department of State offered these tips for consumers to avoid scams during the holidays:
Consumers can prevent becoming a victim by learning how to identify a charity scam. Here are some red flags of potential charity scams:
Similar sounding name: Scammers often use names that sound similar to legitimate charities to intentionally create confusion.
High-pressure solicitation: Fraudsters will try to force a hasty decision by turning up the pressure. They may cold call, identifying you as a previous contributor, and asking for your renewed support or to update your credit card information. These attempts rely on catching consumers off guard to extract financial information.
100% guarantee: Most people want to ensure that their donations are going toward legitimate program expenses. Every organization has some level of administrative cost, which can include mailing and printing, rent and utilities, staff or fundraising. An organization that promises that 100% of your funds are going directly to an individual in need might require additional scrutiny.
Donation by wire transfer: Legitimate charities will not ask you to make payment via money order or wire transfer. If you are being solicited for a donation and are asked to pay by these means, hang up immediately.
Donation by gift card: A charity may ask for donations of gift cards, such as from a grocery store, to supply to someone in need, but you should never read the information from a gift card over the phone or provide it via email. After verifying the legitimacy of the charity, take any physical gift card donation directly to the location of the charity and request documentation of your contribution.