BLUE ASH, Ohio (CBS Local) — An Ohio mom of three school-aged children who lost $20,000 to a Social Security scam is sharing her story to warn others.
The victim, who lives in Blue Ash, spoke to WCPO on the condition the station not use her true name.
It all began with a phone call from “very believable” man who identified himself as a Social Security agent. He said her card had been suspended for “reasons of suspicious activity” and that she was in trouble with the law.
“He said my Social Security number was misused, and that I now had 25 bank accounts, I had illegal drug activity, and have a warrant out for my arrest for money laundering,” she said.
The caller told the victim she could land in jail if she did not act fast.
“He said I needed to prove that I only have two bank accounts, not 25, and I needed to empty my accounts,” she said.
The caller became more hostile, and told her there was no time to discuss her case with anyone, especially her husband.
“All I could think about was, ‘I am going to go to jail,’ I have my kids with me, and I am thinking, ‘I have to do this, I have to get this done,'” she said.
Mom loses $20K to Social Security scam, now warning others https://t.co/COjSfwHmY5
— KCTV5 News (@KCTV5) September 16, 2019
The “agent” explained she needed to empty her savings account and forward the money to the Social Security Administration, where they would put it in a safe, temporary holding account.
“I emptied $20,000 out of my bank account,” she said.
The “agent” then had her go to multiple Target stores in the Cincinnati area and buy batches of $800 and $900 gift cards. Every time she got back in her car, she said, he asked her to read the card numbers to her.
“He had me read every single card number to him, and then he said ‘oh, you can go home now and be with your family.'”
When it was over she said she quickly realized she had fallen for a scam and called the police. But it was too late.
“We did a police report, they went through every gift card, but they had already been redeemed,” she said.
Tracy Lynge of the U.S. Inspector General’s office told WCPO agencies are receiving thousands of complaints this year about these calls.
To protect yourself, she says you should know the Social Security Administration, IRS or FBI will never call you to say a warrant is out for your arrest. And no government agency will ever demand you wire money to them, or purchase gift cards.
“I want to warn other people, if they get a call like that, to hang up immediately,” the victim said.