Being a victim of Identity Theft
In my lifetime I believe I have been only seriously stolen a handful of times
First was when I was 19, my Dad did business with a “family friend” who ran off with our car and life savings. Make matters worse, said criminal friend created a fake id using my name but with a different picture. Philippine NBI did very little to help our cause. We never recovered our car or life savings.
Second: My wallet and ID was stolen in the mall and my bank account was later cleaned of all my savings.
Third: I was twice a victim of the Target and Walmart data breach . They used info from my debit card to charge $700 in purchases. Luckily I was refunded.
In addition I witnessed a good friend of mine scammed via online dating with those money wire scams.
You would think I would be smarter after all these experiences. I did a lot of precautionary measures over the years to secure my identity and profile. In the end it was my naïve nature that did me in.
I’m an avid online gamer that mostly plays for fun and to stress relieve. In the past I’ve worked for 2 MMORPG and one console company. My name is even credited in one of the biggest games in history.
But since I moved and changed careers I lost touch with my old industry. So when the chance came up for me to be a Game Master and online game support on a server I was currently playing for the past 2-3 years, I jumped in on the opportunity.
I met this Game Master/Senior Game server Admin online and informed me that he felt I had great potential to be a customer support and the job would be work from home and $150/month. It was too good to be true and I was in need for extra cash.
He gave me the background that he was from China but traveled to and fro between Beijing and California. He sent me his admin profiles which I realized where all fake or stolen later on.
There were a LOT of Red Flags during our interaction that I stupidly chose to ignore. I desperately needed some extra money to pay for some medical and house bills that all reason went out the window.
• He wanted to chat via Skype. Yet his attitude as a potential supervisor and recruiter was rude.
• He actually got angry and threatened me when I called his bluff saying I felt his offer sounded like a scam. I should have left at that point.
• He sent me a program called Team.exe (TeamViewer) he asked me to leave running into my desktop PC. I thought initially it would be a work program. In reality the program was a keylogger and a remote access. He could see every keystroke I did and gained access to my computer & files
• Then he noted that I need to make a transaction with his company to be able to start my application process. The minimum was $400.
• He refused when I said I wanted to use PayPal transfer. He insisted Moneygram. Also told me to log in my bank in my PC – I at least had the common sense not to do this.
At this point I was halfway of giving up. This guy was screaming fraud. Plus his attitude was a turn off. But somehow he smooth talked me in assurance I would be refunded 20 minutes later.
When I agreed to his Moneygram transfer request he gave me a name
“Yaping Jin” from Beijing China, and a phone number
I sent him his confirmation then 1 hour later he gave me my refund confirmation.
When the Moneygram rep typed it in, the number came up as nonexistent and invalid. I called the customer support office and “Yaping” said he would double check.
Then he gave me reason that told me that this was all a scam.
“Ohh this is the first time you are using Moneygram and receiving from China. They placed your refund on hold until you send $200 more to release it.” – Yaping Skyped
I know at this point I was screwed and was being toyed around. I told him, that’s not how Moneygram works, I’m on the phone with the Customer Support and they confirmed that his modus is a scam. I confronted Yaping with the revelation.
By the time all was done. He was able to hack into my desktop. Grabbed my passwords, delete our chat conversations and even file transferred my personal photos and files.
He did a few more tries to get me to trust him. I told him I don’t have money. He told me to borrow more. Each time laughing when I told him my family is upset and that I used what would be my hospital money. But in the end I refused to his request
Since the PC hack, knew now my name, address, baby pics, EVERYTHING. He could sell my info into the web blackmarket and create a profile using all that info.
I was able to take a few screenshots though of our Skype conversation on those key moments I doubted him.
However the damage has been done and I lost $400 and a chance that he may try getting in my bank account.
I raced with time to change all my passwords. I have 2nd computer, a laptop which was secure.
I did credit holds, called my bank, filed a fraud and at this moment awaiting time to file a police report.
I called Moneygram to also file a fraud report on his profile. But I already knew that his name Yaping was probably one of his many counterfeit profiles.
The next morning I spoke to my HR and boss. I told them my fear of some fake photo of me circulating. My fear of someone using my photos and name to scam others. I wanted to be clear this was not me. I didn’t want to lose my job. They understood and they said they will keep a lookout. The admin from the game server he was impersonating & their team reached out for support. Though there was very little now they can do to find the hacker.
Over the past week, my fear and anxiety has been on overdrive. I’m scared and felt very alone in this.
What if he sold my address to home invaders, what if I receive drugs on my mail? All the scary what ifs.
My friends say, take this as a learning experience…and I am.
For now I want to share this experience to those willing to listen and maybe take a cue from my mistakes in being careful who you talk to online.
As we evolve to protect ourselves so does the hackers.
I will forever regret not listening to my gut feeling the first time.