‘She sounded very professional’: Tech support scam costs Orlando man $2,500

ORLANDO, Fla. — An Orlando man is out $2,500 after he fell for a tech support scam.


It turns out the scammers who convinced him to buy gift cards didn’t get away with any money, but the victim still hasn’t been able get his money back from the merchant.

Rick Miller saw a pop-up on his screen as he was trying to share photos between his phone and his computer. It was a warning about a problem with his Microsoft account.

Miller told Action 9 Consumer Investigator Jeff Deal, “I thought it was legit.”

He was initially directed to an online chat to help fix it.

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“They asked me a couple questions, and said, ‘Well, this is a more serious problem. We’re going to have a Microsoft specialist call you,” Miller said recalling the chat.

The specialist who called turned out to be a scammer. She convinced Rick to allow her to work on his computer remotely. She later told him his computer and phone had been compromised and there was likely a problem with his bank account.

“She sounded very professional,” Miller said.

Before long he was on the line with another scammer pretending to be a bank manager who told him $7000 had been zapped from his account by someone who purchased Sephora gift cards.

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According to Miller, “He said, ‘There is one way we can try to get your money back.’ He said, ‘Have you ever heard of a duplicate charge?’”

He was told a duplicate purchase of the gift cards would prompt an account alert and give him a chance to cancel both transactions. He was instructed to buy the cards immediately at the local Sephora in Winter Park. He now knows that’s a red flag.

“If someone is asking you to make payments by going out and physically purchasing gift cards, you can be guaranteed that that’s a scam,” said Eva Velasquez, President and CEO of Identity Theft Resource Center. She told Action 9 the scope and sophistication of these tech support imposter scams continues to increase.

“They can make that initial contact with the intended victim look and sound so legitimate,” Velasquez said.

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Rick Miller felt uncomfortable about it since it seemed like such a strange process, but he bought ten $250 gift cards from Sephora for a total of $2500. When the scammers then asked him to read the numbers on the back of the cards that’s when he knew it was a scam.

Miller told Action 9, “I said, ‘No. This isn’t right.’ I said, ‘You’re scamming me.’ I said, ‘I’m not doing this.’”

He showed the Action 9 team that he never scratched off the PINs from the gift cards and said he never gave the would-be scammers any of the card numbers either.

But the situation only got worse from there when he tried ask Sephora about a possible refund. Miller said the company froze the cards, which he believed was part of the refund process. Since then, he’s had no luck getting his money back and the cards remain frozen. That means he can’t even give them away as gifts or allow his wife to shop with them.

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Miller said, “Why would they just not try to make it right? I mean, at least turn the cards back on. That’s the least they could do. I mean, I bought them.”

Action 9 has reached out to Sephora and asked about this case. The team will update you if it hears back from the company. If you are ever unsure about someone contacting you, the best way to respond is get off the line and look up the contact information for the real company yourself. That way you can call to find out if you really have a problem with your account.

If you lose money in an online scam, you should report it to the FBI.

Also, the Identity Theft Resource Center has services available to answer questions and assist people with issues related to scams and identity theft.

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Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

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