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Elderly Couple Swindled Out of $18,000 in 'Geek Squad' Refund Scam

The perpetrator, posing as a representative of the Geek Squad, engaged the woman in conversation, promising assistance in refunding.
PUBLISHED APR 11, 2024
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

A couple residing in Spring Township, Berks County, found themselves in the throes of financial loss after falling victim to a "Geek Squad" fraudulent scheme that cost them a staggering $18,000. According to Spring Township Police, the incident came to light on April 5 when law enforcement officials were notified about the unfortunate ordeal endured by the elderly couple. The couple, who prefer to remain anonymous, are both in their 80s.

Pexels | Photo by Kampus Production
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Kampus Production

Reportedly, the wife had reached out to subscribe to the services offered by the technology support service, Best Buy's Geek Squad. However, when attempting to schedule an appointment for the following day, logistical constraints thwarted their plans.

Desperate to resolve the issue, the woman resorted to seeking an alternative contact number for Best Buy on the internet. "Unfortunately, the number she found appeared genuine to her," said Spring Township Detective Timothy Katzaman, who elaborated on the sequence of events.

The perpetrator, posing as a representative of the Geek Squad, engaged the woman in conversation, promising assistance in refunding the subscription fee. Little did she know, this marked the beginning of her misfortune. The ordeal unfolded over a series of phone interactions, during which the couple inadvertently granted remote access to their computer to an unknown individual.

As the couple watched, a bank account page materialized on their screen, manipulated by the unseen party. Under the guise of rectifying a supposed error, the couple was coerced into initiating a transfer of funds, intended to be a modest refund, from their account. However, a grave mistake led to a colossal transfer of $17,999 instead of the intended $179.99, pushing the unsuspecting couple into a nightmare.

Unsplash | Photo by Giorgio Trovato
Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Giorgio Trovato

Despite the initial shock of the unexpected windfall, the scammers quickly pivoted, claiming dire consequences if the funds weren't returned immediately. The husband was then instructed to withdraw the entire sum in cash from their financial institution, purportedly to be collected by a representative dispatched by the fraudulent company.

What followed was a well-planned exchange at the couple's apartment complex, as the husband handed over an envelope containing the cash to an individual who purportedly arrived to collect it. However, the saga took another turn when the couple discovered yet another substantial deposit of $18,000 in their account, prompting further demands for its return.

However, things got under control after the couple's adult children intervened, recognizing the ruse for what it truly was: a sophisticated scam. With the assistance of law enforcement, the envelope containing the funds was secured, and authorities remained vigilant for any further attempts at deception.

A shopper pays cash for sales merchandise | Getty Images | Photo by Joe Raedle
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Joe Raedle

Later, Police arrested Sakibul Pranto, 25, of Jamaica, N.Y., a key suspect linked to the scam. Pranto was found with incriminating evidence, including suspicious communication tools. He now faces charges of conspiracy to commit theft by deception and receiving stolen property after his arrest in Berks County.

Held on $50,000 bail at Berks County Prison, Pranto awaits trial following arraignment in Reading Central Court. Detective Timothy Katzaman revealed plans to forensically examine the accused's smartphone to trace other accomplices in the $18,000 scam.

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