TASA ID: 408

Recently, I became intrigued with an advertisement on television for a product / service which appeared new.  It concerns a mobile telephone service which would cut my current service plan by about 50% … saving about $1,500 a year.  The advertisement indicates that a subscriber could use their current cell phone, merely removing the sim card and inserting the new one from this new carrier.  Although the new carrier does not have their own cell towers or cell facilities, it has contracted, according to the ad, to ‘bounce’ off two other very major cell carriers, depending upon the location of the call being made and the receiver of the call. 

Since we have a service/repair contract with our current carrier, I wanted to discover if the new carrier had a similar provision which we could purchase.

There is no telephone number on the TV ad.  Utilizing the next-best option, I consulted the Internet.  First site…no phone number.  Second site…no phone number.  The third site listed a phone number (an 888 number).  When I pressed the appropriate numbers on the telephone, I received that magical response to which we are all familiar: “Your call is important to us and will be answered in the order in which it was received.  The approximate waiting time is 17 minutes.”

I am retired.  Seventeen minutes; therefore, is almost considered an activity… so I was anxious and prepared to wait.  Nonetheless, within 10 seconds a representative answered and indicated he could answer my questions if I provided some internal code numbers from my cell phone.  What harm could there be… I HAD CALLED HIM; he didn’t solicit my business by calling me!  I gave him the numbers.

After a brief pause, I was told to download a program on my computer which would allow him to come on to my computer ‘live’ to see if he could find the proper identifying numbers. What harm could there be… again, I HAD CALLED HIM; he didn’t solicit my business by calling me!  I downloaded the program and allowed him access to my screen and computer.

Within seconds – with the mouse under his control – he clicked on the icon for my bank checking account.  I questioned what he was doing and he told me to relax.  Seconds later he ‘stimulated’ the instant payment option from the bank and began helping himself to a large sum of money.  I began to realize what was happening and questioned what he was doing via our telephone connection. He again told me to relax, and this time said I should not worry, I would have the money back quickly!  

I began to simultaneously move my mouse, fighting for control of the on-screen mouse movements.  We argued… he had ‘relieved’ me of $1,997.94 via instant payment… and he was then clicking on my online stockbroker account while I continued moving the mouse away from what he was trying to accomplish.

I closed the computer cover.  Waited two minutes and reopened it… and sure enough, he was quickly there again, trying to access more money from my checking account’s instant fund transfer option.

I am left-handed so my mouse is on the table on my left side.  Our router is on the desk next to me on my right side, about eight-feet away.  I had to move the mouse on a hard surface while I walked the distance to the router where I disconnected our Internet connection completely.

Having been familiar with computers since the early 1980’s I knew the only way to properly eliminate the possibilities that this person would again seize control of my computer was to remove the programs I allowed him to install.

After that procedure was completed, I began the hunt for the ‘fraud’ department of my bank…a major US commercial bank.  The fraud department’s direct phone number is not listed…anywhere. After a long ‘on-hold’ period, I was transferred to another department…and repeated the ‘on-hold’ situation three times before finally reaching the actual ‘human’ representative in the fraud department.  The conversation with the fraud representative lasted just under two hours, after which I was instructed to see our local bank branch manager the next morning.

The one-hour long wait for the branch manager the next morning resulted in a three-hour – twenty-minute working session during which the ‘old’ checking account was closed and funds transferred to a new checking account.  We had to trace any outstanding checks on the old account and ‘force’ payment from a new account; had to edit all the ‘online’ payments of about 30 payees (some made monthly – others less often) to be sure each future payment was deducted from the new account; had to notify our direct deposit situations (Social Security, monthly annuities, etc.) to adjust their direct deposit into the new account… and on and on.  Additionally, since 9/11 a consumer cannot just appear in a bank and ask to open, or transfer funds to a new account.  Several photo-linked and other forms of identification must be presented…from all parties involved.

Sure enough, five days later the bank deposited into our new account the exact amount the ‘thief’ had taken.  However, the ‘thief’ got away with the transferred money.  The refund came from the bank’s insurance company once they adjudicated that the information we provided in the initial claim was true and accurate. 

Our only liability, beside the huge deficit in time and effort, was the cost of printing new checks.  Our own computer technician was able to trace the i.p. address of the ‘thief’ along with the number of times that person tried subsequently to access our account.  The thief, as it turns out, works for the company we tried to call initially but hijacked the call and used it for self-benefit.

I thought it couldn’t happen to me!   Wrong!  It happened!

TASA Article Disclaimer

This article discusses issues of general interest and does not give any specific legal or business advice pertaining to any specific circumstances.  Before acting upon any of its information, you should obtain appropriate advice from a lawyer or other qualified professional.

This article may not be duplicated, altered, distributed, saved, incorporated into another document or website, or otherwise modified without the permission of TASA and the author (TASA ID# 408). Contact marketing@tasanet.com for any questions.

Previous Article How to Avoid and Deal with Pelvic Mesh Litigation
Next Article What is Failure Analysis?
Tasa ID408

Theme picker


  • Let Us Find Your Expert

  • Note: This form is to be completed by legal and insurance professionals ONLY. If you are a party in a case that requires an expert witness, please have your attorney contact TASA at 800-523-2319.

Search Experts

TASA provides a variety of quality, independent experts who meet your case criteria. Search our extensive list of experts now.

Search Experts