A resident received an email from a well-known Pacific Palisades senior named “Bob.”
As all Los Angeles residents are aware, those over the age of 65 and those with compromised immune systems are supposed to self-isolate during the coronavirus, so many people are going out of their way to help seniors.
The resident, who is in his 50s, received an email from Bob with “Happy Easter” in the subject line and the following text, “How are you doing? Please, I need a great favor from you.”
The resident didn’t give it a second thought and responded to Bob’s email, writing “Happy Easter. I hope all is well with you and family. How can I help? Are you okay?”
Bob responded, “I need to get an Ebay gift card for my Nephew. It’s his birthday but i can’t do this now because I’m currently traveling. Can you get it from any store around you? I’ll pay back as soon as i am back. Kindly let me know if you can handle this.”
The resident, who knows and admires Bob, didn’t give it a second thought and responded that he was happy to do it.
Bob then gave specific instructions: “Thank you very much. Total amount needed for Ebay gift cards is $300 from any store around you and I need you to scratch the back of the card to reveal the pin, then take a snap shot of the back showing the pin and have it sent to my email.”
The resident thought he was helping his friend, went to the store, purchased it and followed the instructions.
He then received a subsequent email from Bob, who wrote: “I just redeemed the card to my personal Ebay gift card store, because I noticed my email was still signed in at the local library here to avoid any complications. I just logged off. will appreciate if you can get another $400 card for me now so I can forward it to my Nephew. I will have to pay you $700 on Monday when I get back home.”
Unable to reach Bob by phone, the resident than went back to the Pacific Palisades CVS drug store and purchased a $400 card, repeating the process.
It was only when the resident was asked for even more money in a THIRD email did he realize he had been scammed.
Online thieves had hacked into Bob’s email list and sent out the request to several people in the address book. Bob had no knowledge that his email had been hacked.
The resident, who has a good heart and is a kind man, thought he was helping a friend, but instead lost $700.
The resident tried to report the scam to Pacific Palisades Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore and received the following email: “Unfortunately, I have been out with Covid-19 since 3/26/20 and have no expected return date at this time. Due to staffing shortages, there is nobody available to replace me during this period. For any issues that require a police response, please call 911 or call 877-275-5273 for non-emergencies.
Warning: Even though we want to help seniors, please do not send money or cards to anyone, without speaking to them.