An elderly couple in Texas have lost their life savings to online scammers in an elaborate phishing scheme involving Bitcoin.
Judith and George Mijarez, of San Antonio, in the US state of Texas, did not believe that they would be taken for all they were worth by online crooks but she explained that this was exactly what had happened.
Judith said: “I was on my tablet, it just kept flashing back up at me so I called the number and it said Apple customer support.”
The phoney Apple representative was quickly followed by a fake fraud officer from the Wells Fargo bank.
Judith said that they were told they were facing substantial fines for having child porn on their account but the bank would help them clear matters up because clearly it was unfounded allegations.
She explained that the scammers then connected her to another accomplice who reportedly hoodwinked her into sharing personal information.
The man, who reportedly claimed to be a Justice Department official, told the couple that they needed to withdraw their cash because their social security number had been hacked.
She added: “We were so scared, we went to the bank and withdrew the money and they were going to put it in a safe place so that it would be protected.”
The couple said that the online scammers then told them to go to a nearby Food Mart and transfer USD 14,000 (GBP 11,000) to a secure Bitcoin account using a Bitcoin machine there.
George said: “This was our first dealing with Bitcoin and didn’t know what was involved.”
Judith said that over the course of two days the crooks “had us empty our account to the tune of USD 43,000” (GBP 33,700).
She added: “I took her word that she was with Wells Fargo, I should have hung up, called Wells Fargo and asked.”
The couple, who reportedly decided to share their experience to avoid it happening to others, are reportedly being helped by their family and children.
It is unclear if the authorities are investigating the fraud and if they had made any arrests at the time of writing.