Date Posted: 
Monday, June 24, 2024

DFI received a complaint from a Washington resident concerning a tech support scam that their mother-in-law fell victim to. The scammers impersonated a Vanguard employee to convince the victim to liquidate her Vanguard account.

The victim purchased a new computer and had a business clone her old computer to put onto her new one. A few days later, the victim received a pop-up on her computer stating that there was a security breach and provided a phone number to a “Microsoft security expert.” The security expert convinced the victim to give them remote access to her computer, then told the victim that it appeared that there were financial transactions in her Vanguard account that were authorized by her which were not.

The security expert then connected the victim to a supposed Vanguard employee who worked in the fraud department. The “Microsoft” and “Vanguard” employees told the victim that hackers gained access to her computer and phone and were trying to steal her money. They convinced the victim to liquidate her Vanguard account and write several blank checks to a purported employee of the Social Security Administration. Two checks were cashed and deposited into an account for a total of $1,521,000. When the victim reached out to Vanguard, she was told that the alleged employee did not exist.

The purported employee was another Washington resident who fell victim to a similar scam. The resident confirmed that they received blank signed checks from two different individuals. The resident also received a message from the scammers on her computer. The message confirmed that she was victim of a scam and that people from whom money was transferred to her accounts were also victims whose money was stolen.

These allegations have not been verified by DFI.

This appears to be what is commonly known as a tech support scam.

DFI urges consumers to exercise extreme caution before responding to unsolicited advice regarding their retirement or brokerage accounts. Before initiating any transactions in their account, consumers are strongly advised to contact their financial institution directly using trusted contact information to confirm the identity or existence of any purported or the legitimacy of any unexpected financial advice or instructions.