HOUSTON – Alice Turner learned a costly lesson Wednesday about cyber danger.
The 72-year-old Sugar Land woman lost $9,500 of her retirement savings to scammers. The loss was even more painful, knowing her late husband worked hard so she didn’t have to worry about money.
“I can’t use the excuse I was in mourning," Turner said. “It was just stupidity on my part, not listening to the bells and whistles.”
Turner said she found a company online in August 2017 called Technological Solutions.
She said she paid them $500 to help her remove malware off her laptop but ended up having to pay a different company $700 to fix the issues Technological Solutions never resolved. Turner said a representative with an Indian accent called her Tuesday to alert her the company was shutting down and would issue her a full refund.
The retiree said the caller insisted on refunding her electronically, although she initially paid for the service by credit card. On Wednesday, Turner obliged and the caller talked her through the electronic refund on her computer.
“He said, 'Now I need you to type in one, zero, zero, point, zero, zero, which would be $100,'” Turner said. “I hit enter and a few minutes later he comes back and goes, 'Ma’am,' he says, 'You took $10,000 out of our account, we can’t give you a $10,000 refund.'”
Promoted by the caller, Turner went to her bank and withdrew $9,500 from her savings account to try to make it right with the company. She then deposited that amount into a bank account with a foreign name provided by the caller.
“He said, 'Write down this account number and name and go in and deposit it and don’t (ask) any questions or anything," she said.
Half of Turner’s retirement savings is now gone, along with the scammers. The bank account in which she deposited the funds has since been closed. All 20 phone numbers she received calls on from the company this week no longer work.
She filed a report with Sugar Land police and is now warning others to be more careful online.
“I don’t want any other person whether young or old, particularly elderly people, if there’s any one person I could save for this I definitely don’t want them going through what I went through,” she said.
Turner is now searching for a job to help replace the money lost -— leaving retirement for the workforce.