A Georgia couple nearly lost more than $186,000 in a gold scam. But they ended up turning the tables and scamming the scammers.
It all started with a pop-up on the Perry, Georgia, couple’s computer warning the machine was infected with a virus. The couple called the help number provided.
That was their first mistake.
The scammer on the other end warned that the virus may have compromised their bank account and helpfully connected them with their bank’s fraud department.
This was the couple’s second mistake. They should have hung up and called the bank’s fraud department directly. The person the scammer connected them with was, of course, just another scammer. This individual confirmed that their account had been compromised, saying there were pending suspicious transactions.
The couple was then passed along to a third scammer pretending to be from the Federal Trade Commission. This individual even emailed phony documents to “confirm” his identity. The fake federal agent told the couple the best way to protect their money was to take the $185,916 from the compromised account and buy bars of gold.
The scammer told the couple an undercover FTC agent would come to their home, pick up the gold, and take it to Washington D.C. Once verified, the couple would receive a check for the full amount.
As implausible as this may sound to you and me, the couple bought the story and went as far as to purchase 1 kilogram Royal Canadian Mint gold bars from a dealer in Texas.
But at some point, the couple grew suspicious and called the police. The case ended up on the desk of Perry Police Department Detective Sgt. J.I. “Ike” Wilcox,’ and he hatched a plan to scam the scammers. He dubbed it “Operation Goldfinger.”
It just so happened that Wilcox is an expert on fraud and teaches courses on how to avoid it.
“A lot of times that demographic is more vulnerable because technology has evolved so much during their lifetime,” Wilcox told the Macon Telegraph.
The police had the gold shipment rerouted back to the dealer. The couple received a full refund. But with the help of police, the husband and wife strung the scammers along, telling them the gold was on the way. Sure enough, the scammers arranged to have a courier come to the couple’s home to pick up the gold.
When the SUV showed up, police arrested the driver, Gurdev Singh, 31, of Stockton, California. He faces numerous charges, including criminal attempt to commit theft by deception and exploitation of elder persons.
“I could safely describe his reaction as genuine surprise,” Wilcox said.
According to the Telegraph, the investigation remains open and detectives are trying to track down others involved in the scam.
According to the US Department of Justice, in 2021, cyber-related crimes stole more than $140 million from victims in Georgia alone.
The lesson is to always be on guard. If something feels fishy, it probably is.
There are thousands of unscrupulous people out there trying to rip you off. And some of them aren’t criminals. There are a lot of shady businesses out there looking for ways to take advantage of you.
You can learn more about gold scams and how to avoid getting ripped off in our free report, Classic Gold Scams. Click the link below to download the free report!
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