Computer security scam costs SB veteran $19K

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – A local veteran wants other computer owners to be aware of a fake Norton Antivirus security notification that has now cost her $19,000.

“I don’t want anybody else to go through the hell that I’ve been going through,” said Lori Hastings.

On January 21st, Hastings said she received a computer notification informing her she had been charged $546 for Norton antivirus software. Given she uses auto-payment for other bills but hadn’t used Norton in years, she called the number listed on the notification to inquire.

She said a man who identified himself as “A.G.” asked Lori to punch a number combination on her keyboard, and he gained remote access.

“He said, ‘Oh my gosh, you now owe us $12,000. Something went wrong,’” recalled Lori.

To rectify the “error,” the man told Lori to withdraw $12,000 from her bank account and transfer it using a gas station Bitcoin machine.

Lori said the man was so convincing and caught her in a panic mode.

“Being newly divorced and being back home and you know, penny-conscious. And he, he made it seem so real,” she said.

A couple days after the transaction, Lori said she stopped by her banking branch to ask about the payment. She learned terrible news.

“[The scammer] went into my bank account and took out another $7,000. I can’t get any of it back. I mean, it’s gone. It’s gone,” Lori said.

While she said her bank was helpful but couldn’t reverse the $19,000 fraud, Lori did file a report with South Bend Police. Capt. Jason Biggs said Bitcoin fraud makes it very hard to be reimbursed due to the complexity of digital currency.

“With the federal government and the local governments, we’re trying to figure out how to investigate Bitcoin and then get those people reimbursed. Bitcoin is a little bit of an unknown,” said Biggs.

Biggs said to immediately report suspected fraud to the police jurisdiction in which it occurred.

How to spot phishing scams (per SBPD/Norton)

-Don’t respond to e-mails that ask for money

-A company or government entity will never ask for Bitcoin

-Cross-reference a company’s customer service number with the number listed on a notification

-When in doubt, call police or the company in question.

Norton offers additional tips here.

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