An 81-year-old New Jersey woman named Carole Robinson was swindled out of $420,000 and, as a result, could lose her mortgage-free home.
According to reports, Robinson fell victim to a scam in October 2021, which cost her $420,000 in addition to possibly losing her mortgage-free house. The incident made her among over 31,000 New Jersey residents who reported identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission that year.
The 81-year-old woman reportedly realized she was swindled out of her money after receiving an email about a $499.99 annual subscription fee charged to her Wells Fargo account. As soon as she made the revelation, she called the number that was provided to request a refund.
“He said no problem, he could take care of it,” Robinson recalled a fake representative telling her. “He asked if he could access my computer to remove the file. I said yes, as I have over the years done this with no problem.”
She continued, saying the scammer got into her bank account, where her checking and IRA funds were located.
“He asked me to type my name in, and when it came to the refund amount, which was rounded out to $500, it magically became $50,000. I was told no problem–we would make a wire transfer to correct the error,” she said.
Robinson added that the man instructed her not to notify Wells Fargo about the error because they’d probably think it involved money laundering and that he said the $50,000 amount was to buy furniture. She also said he attempted to block money laundering suspicions by opening an account with Cayman Islands cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, in her name.
The older woman followed instructions as she approved three different transactions from her IRA–$49,500, $39,500 and $221,000–over the following few days. The funds were then allegedly transferred to the Binance account.
Over a short span of time, things got progressively worse as she said the scammers opened a home equity line of credit in her name at a separate bank. Unbeknownst to Robinson, they stole $99,500 against her mortgage-free home.
“I woke up Tuesday morning, Nov. 9, ready to pay bills and bam, no money. I let out a scream,” she said. “I tried to call the number, which is now disconnected.”
Now, the Jersey resident is left trying to get her money back. She reportedly filed complaints with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, local lawmakers and police to no avail thus far.
“I feel embarrassed, victimized, but not a victim,” she said.