Confronting a scammer: Reporter turns tables on person trying to take your money

A consumer reporter called a scammer to help you spot the rip-off before it happens.


Sister station WGAL consumer reporter Brian Roche called a scammer to help you spot the rip-off before it happens.

Brian hears from a lot of viewers about computer scams but wanted to take you inside a phone call with one of these scammers so you can hear how the computer protection scam works and how convincing the con artists can be.

An email passed on from a viewer claimed a subscription for Best Buy's Geek Squad PC care was about to automatically renew for $438.17.

The email was not from Best Buy. These scams can use the name of any well-known computer protection service, including Apple and Microsoft.

The recipient of the email had to call a number to cancel the subscription.

When Brian called that number, the man who answered told him to open a browser window on his computer.

When Brian asked why, the person answered, "Because, sir, you need to pull up the cancellation form, which I'm going to provide you right now, OK?"

While he claimed he wanted to direct Brian to a cancellation form to get his money back, the ultimate goal of this scam is to get into Brian's computer.

"First of all, confirm me that what computer are you using right now? It's a Mac computer or it's a Windows computer?" the person asked Brian.

With that question, Brian said there was no doubt the goal was to get into his computer. The person wanted to know what operating system he'll be dealing with to access files and personal and banking information.

The man directed Brian to a website where he could supposedly get the cancellation form and get his money, but the website showed no affiliation with Geek Squad or Best Buy.

The man wanted Brian to click on a link on that website, and that's where Brian drew the line.

"At this point, listen, I want to let you know that I'm not comfortable doing that and quite frankly, I believe that you are a scam artist," Brian said.

The man insisted he was just trying to help.

"I'm helping you to fill out that cancellation form and to take that reimbursement because you're like my big brother and I don't want you to lose $348 because it's a big amount," he said.

And the $348? What happened to the $438?

After Brian told him he has never dealt with the Geek Squad and no money has been taken out of his account, he again told the man he thinks he is a scammer.

"Sir, I'm a scammer? Then you are right. I'm hanging up this call and I'm happy and our company is going just [be] happy with your $438," the man said.

"Well, listen, you enjoy my $438 and 17 cents that doesn't exist, but thanks for taking the time today and chatting with us," Brian said.

The ultimate goal of these scams is to make you believe you have already lost your money and you need to call back to get reimbursed.

If you do call back and the scammer gets into your computer, they can get to your personal information and even download ransomware into your machine and force you to pay to unlock your computer.

Best Buy provided the following statement:

"Unfortunately, criminals continue to target consumers with many different scams, some of which include posing as well-known brands like Best Buy or Geek Squad. If a customer receives an unexpected call or email, they should treat it with suspicion."

Again, the email didn't come from Best Buy's Geek Squad. Scammers use the names of well-known computer services, like Apple, Microsoft, Norton or Symantec, to make their scam email seem legitimate.

If you get an email like this, make sure you check your financial records before responding.