‘The money is gone’: Older woman loses $140,000 in scam, man out $35,000

By Joe Stumpe | April 12, 2023

“The money is gone.”
That’s in the statement issued by District Attorney Marc Bennett in announcing that two older Wichita residents have lost a total of nearly $175,000 to scammers.
In the first case, a Wichita man in his late 70’s received a pop-up warning on his computer that his bank account had been hacked. The scammer instructed the man to wire over $35,500 to another bank account to “keep his money from being stolen and to catch the hacker,” he told investigators. The money was wired and the scammer requested an additional $20,000. But his Wichita bank blocked the wire transfer and it was then that the victim knew he had been scammed.
In the second scam, a Wichita woman in her mid 70’s received a pop-up warning that her computer had been hacked. When she called the number on the screen, a woman who said she was with Microsoft answered and asked for authorization to log into her computer. The woman told the victim someone had withdrawn $20,000 to purchase pornography. The victim was told she could be charged with having pornography and money laundering.
The scammer convinced the woman to make several withdrawals from her Wichita bank, resulting in just under $139,700.
Bennett said these kind of scams are common. The largest his office handled approached $1 million.
Asked why the bank in the second case didn’t block the withdrawal, Bennett said it’s not unusual for scammers to coach their victims into lying to their banks about the reason for large cash withdrawals. If someone tells you to lie to your bank about the reason for a withdrawal, you are being scammed, Bennett added.
The district attorney also offered these tips to avoid being scammed:
– Never call the number in the text, email, or pop up. Always look up the company if you are concerned. Call the number directly from the company website.
– If someone you have never met asks for cash, gift cards, or cryptocurrency, it is a scam.
– Legitimate companies do not use pop up messages on computers to contact their customers. If you receive such a message, or telephone call, or cell phone text, it is a scam. Hang up the phone or just disregard the pop-up message.
Bennett has signed inquisitions from his Investigations Division requesting bank records as part of the probe into the scams.
If you have any questions about any-consumer-related transactions, contact the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Division at 316-660-3600.