HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Henrico woman is speaking out after she said she was scammed out of more than $7,500.
Robin Loyall said she received a call on Wednesday, March 16, from a number with an 804 area code which caller ID showed to be Verizon. Given that Verizon is her actual provider, she answered.
“The man sounded very professional,” Loyall said. “The gentleman on the line told me that my computer had gone active and that anybody and everybody could get access to anything on my computer, and they need to fix it. I just needed to log on to my computer so that they could fix it. So I did that.”
Loyall told 8News that she was in the middle of another crisis at home when the call came in, as her horse had gotten out of its fence. Loyall, a widow, is in a wheelchair and had to contact animal control to retrieve the animal before it got too far.
“I came back here and logged on my computer, and immediately, it started showing all these screens, and it was scrolling through this and scrolling through that,” she said.
Loyall said that the caller claiming to be from Verizon instructed her to click on a button, which prompted a download. She did not remember what it was called, just that the icon was colored red and white.
By Thursday morning, Loyall realized that her landline and computer were not working properly. She said that she couldn’t close any of the programs running on her computer for three days.
“Saturday morning, my phone came on, and I came back to the computer to check my computer and my bank account,” she said. “They had transferred — and it looks like I transferred the money from my savings account to my checking account, which I did not do — but they transferred $7,500. It showed a wire transfer of $7,000 to Ecuador and $625 […] sent to India, and the man entered my last name as his last name on that.”
The alleged scammer didn’t stop there.
“The scammers called me on Saturday and told me I needed to go get gift cards to send to them for the money that they had put in my account and was owed to them,” Loyall said. “I called 9-1-1 while I had them on my cell phone, and the dispatcher heard them threatening me and sent the police out here.”
Loyall said that EMTs also responded to her home because she has a pacemaker and thought she was having a heart attack under the stress of it all.
“I’m not that computer savvy,” she said. “I just feel so stupid. I feel so stupid. I know better.”
Loyall said that she has since closed the accounts from which the alleged scammers were able to draw money. She has also had her computer wiped of the programs that were downloaded. Now, she’s in the process of trying to get her $7,500 back.
“I had to close out the accounts I had, of course, and I had to open new ones and put in what money I had left that they didn’t take which ain’t a whole lot, and the bank is investigating,” Loyall said. “But they said I probably will not get my money back from the bank because it was my fault that I opened my computer and let the people have access to my computer.”
She told 8News that she is also in the process of canceling her credit cards, in the event that those were also compromised, and has reached out to Verizon to alert them.
But she’s concerned about her ability to pay her bills in the immediate future.
“I get my retirement check, social security check and my husband’s military benefits as his survivor. They’re all directly deposited into my account. I spent yesterday afternoon calling them to give them the new checking account, routing number, and it’s all loaded. But it won’t be effective until May,” Loyall said. “My bills won’t get paid on time. Luckily, I’ve got friends enough who can loan me money to get groceries if I need it and stuff like that.”
A spokesperson for the Henrico County Police Division (HCPD) confirmed that authorities are investigating this alleged fraudulent activity. 8News also reached out to Bank of America, with which one of the compromised accounts was established, and Verizon, but is waiting to hear back from both companies.
8News also called the phone numbers that the alleged scammers provided to Loyall. One rang busy, despite calling multiple times, and the other was answered with an automated message that said the call could not be completed as dialed.
Despite living only with her four-legged family members, Loyall said she wants to share her story to help prevent this from happening to others.
“Don’t answer the phone,” she said. “Just hang up on these people. They are so slick, it isn’t funny, and I’m a retired teacher, so I know better, and they got me. They got me big.”