ABQ retiree loses $90K in text scam
“Yank” was a constant presence on Barbara’s cellphone at the end of March, staying on the line as he directed her to withdraw money from various credit union branches and deposit the cash into Bitcoin machines.
He claimed to be with the fraud department at Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union, where Barbara is a member, and said she needed to move her money to keep it from being stolen by scammers.
Turns out “Yank” was the one who was the scammer and, by the time Barbara caught on, she and her husband were out $90,000 – a huge chunk of their life savings.
“I’m angry more than anything,” says Barbara, a retired violinist who once played with the Utah Symphony. “I am also a senior and, to this point, would have considered myself relatively savvy.”
For example, the longtime Albuquerque resident says that, for years, she has checked her online banking accounts twice a day to watch for fraud.
The nightmare started March 30 with a text saying $900 had been charged to her Amazon account and she should call the given number if the charge wasn’t hers.
She called and was told to hold for the credit union’s fraud department because of “ongoing efforts to wire $20,000 from the credit union accounts to somebody in Thailand.”
“It kind of freaked me out,” Barbara says, adding that she thinks she was vulnerable to a story about losing her money because her debit card had been breached a while ago. (She lost no money in that incident.)