Scammers impersonate these big brands the most to steal your money

SAN ANTONIO – Get an unexpected email or text from Amazon or Best Buy? Be careful. Scammers stole at least $660 million last year by impersonating big name companies. The top three names used by fraudsters are Best Buy, Amazon, and PayPal.

“These people are ruthless. They will destroy a person financially,” said Steve, a scam victim who did not want to use his last name.

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Steve shared his story last fall to help warn others.

He received an email from PayPal. It was a real invoice, but with fake charges for iPhones. He knew it was bogus, but he said he wanted to do the right thing and inform the company. He called the phone number he thought was customer service.

“He said so you have a bad charge, we’ll take care of that. Blah, blah, blah, and unfortunately I fell for it,” he said.

In a sophisticated ruse, he was ripped off for $80,000.

The brand name impersonated most often, according to the FTC report, was Best Buy.

One fraudulent email making the rounds appears to be from Best Buy’s Geek Squad. The logo looks legitimate. The message says the recipient’s subscription has been renewed and bank account charged. If it’s not wanted, the recipient is to call the provided phone number.

That phone number does not lead to the real Best Buy. The email also contains misspelled words.

People lost the most money, though, when fraudsters pretended to be from Microsoft.

Dennis and Joy Shockey know that too well. They lost more than $170,000 when they got tricked by devious and convincing swindlers.

They shared their ordeal last fall, as well.

It started when Dennis Shockey got a pop up for tech support on his frozen computer screen.

“That’s strange,” he said. “I’d never seen this, so I called the number.”

He thought he was talking to a representative from Microsoft.

What followed was a month-long, elaborate scheme that ended when Shockey moved his life savings into another account for what the scammers called safe-keeping.

“They’re evil,” said Joy Shockey.

For your protection, the FTC advices you never move your money at someone’s request for safe-keeping.

Don’t click on links in suspicious emails or text messages.

And, if you get an unexpected request from a business, verify it independently and talk to someone you know and trust.

Top 10 most-impersonated companies by scammers according to FTC

  • Best Buy/Geek Squad
  • Publishers Clearing House
  • Norton/Lifelock
  • Comcast/Xfinity
  • Bank of America
  • Wells Fargo

Many of the companies have information on their websites to inform customers of scams.

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