Voice of the consumer: Cellphone disappears along with $1,500

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - 11 News lead Call For Action investigator Katie Pelton pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

A couple is out more than $1,000 after getting a phone call and being taken for a ride by scammers.

It started with this voicemail: “We’ve recently detected unusual activity on your Apple account so we have locked your Apple account to protect it from any fraud. If you’d like to unlock your Apple account or talk to a live specialist, please press one or call.”

“First I kind of blew it off, but I was having trouble with my phone, it was very slow and quite often the screen would turn black,” said Linda Mulready. “So I thought, ‘Well maybe there is something wrong with it.’”

So she called the number back and a man named Felix answered.

“He said it would be a very simple matter for him to diagnose exactly what’s wrong with my phone. He wanted me to hook my phone up to the computer,” said Linda. “So I’m sitting there watching him go through my computer and it was making me a little nervous and he finally came back on the line and said, ‘Your phone is infected and it cannot be fixed.’”

The guy said he could send her a replacement phone from Apple.

“About an hour and a half later, my doorbell rings and it’s a man with a bag and there’s a cellphone in it. I was busy doing things, so I just put the cellphone on my counter. Then Felix calls back and wants to know if I have the phone and I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Have you opened it?’ I said, ‘No,’” said Linda.

Felix told Linda not to open the package because they delivered the wrong phone. She offered to return it at the Apple store, but he told her not to do that. Instead, the guy asked her to mail the phone to an address in another state.

“He said, ‘It’s very important that you go to UPS today and mail the phone to the location, otherwise we can’t proceed.’ So I agreed to do that and I mailed it,” said Linda. “Then I never heard from him again.”

“My daughter and her husband came to dinner and I told them what happened and they said, ‘You’ve been scammed,” Linda added.

Sure enough, she checked her bank account and there was a charge for $1,500 for a brand new iPhone. I told her the scammers could have ordered the phone when they had access to her computer because they can access saved credit cards. Linda called her bank and changed her passwords. She also filed a police report.

“That person that’s getting that phone finally, they might be like, ‘Oh great I’m getting this new iPhone, now I’m going to sell it for cash,’” said CSPD Financial Crimes Sgt. Joe Matiatos. “They might be yet another middle person and then they move that phone on.”

The person who received Linda’s package may have been unaware that they were part of a scam, just like Linda was unaware. That’s what makes it hard for investigators to track down the criminals in cases like this. And many times, the scam originates from overseas.

“If you’re having issues like that with your electronics or your computer, take it to where you bought it. Don’t trust somebody over the phone or don’t even trust anybody over the computer,” said Sgt. Matiatos.

If you’re wondering if you’re dealing with a scam, you can call our Call for Action volunteers at 719-457-8211.

Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.