Spoofing scam costs nurse her life savings; don’t let this happen to you

Apple removed two unnamed apps from the App Store after a nurse named Avalon Grimes had her life savings of $24,000 stolen after she received a spoofed call that appeared to be from Chase Bank. The two apps violated App Store policies against hosting apps that help others make prank and anonymous calls. According to CBS News New York, the nurse received a phone call that showed up on her phone as coming from Chase, but she was being targeted by a scammer.

A nurse is tricked via a spoofed phone call into losing her life savings

As Grimes told CBS, “When I spoke with the police department they told me it’s something called ‘spoofing.’ They can use an app and they can mimic a number, and the number that showed up, the whole name that you would normally see when you would call Chase, that number showed up.” Records that were obtained from T-Mobile show that the number that called the nurse was the same number for Chase’s international services as the one listed on the back of her credit card.

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Grimes lost her life savings when she agreed to move her funds into another account on the advice of the person on the other end of the call whom she thought was her friendly Chase banker. “There shouldn’t be any sort of apps or any sort of ways to fake a number to make someone believe that it is a particular company,” Grimes said.

CBS News New York found multiple apps in the App Store that allow the user to spoof calls. One of the apps allowed CBS to spoof the Chase Bank phone number for free. CBS said that when it tested out the app, it even showed Chase Bank on the caller ID.

The developer of the app, Ayman Abdallah, said the app was created for entertainment and claimed that some numbers for banks, schools, and public safety agencies are banned from the app. Asked about the incident involving Nurse Grimes, Abdallah said, “Yes, that should not be allowed. Definitely, we’ll take responsibility and making sure to also ban international toll numbers.”

Follow these tips to avoid becoming a victim of a spoofing scam

The developer also said that scammers don’t use his app and put the blame on wireless carriers. “All these carriers need to collaborate together and also change these systems, but the question is why? Why do they leave it open?” Abdallah said.

To prevent this from happening to you, do not repeat to a caller any security code that has been texted to your phone. Nurse Grimes did and this helped the scammers get to her account. Don’t answer calls from a number you don’t recognize. If you do answer the call, hang up immediately. Do not press any buttons and do not divulge personal info such as your Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, credit card numbers, or any passwords.

Do not trust any caller until you are certain that you know who it is. And even then, Claire Rosenzweig of the Better Business Bureau says, “AI makes it much easier for scammers to spoof identities. They can even spoof someone’s voice.” She adds that if you get a call from a utility or government agency, “Take a moment, take a breath, step back, and contact the source. If they’re saying that it’s a utility company or a government entity, you call the source. You go to them ‘Have you been trying to reach me?'” Rosenzweig said.

While Chase is working with the bank that the scammer used to get Grimes’ money returned to her, it seems that the money has already been withdrawn leaving the nurse without her life savings and having to start all over again. While banks are required to reimburse customers who are the victims of fraud, this is not the case when the customer has been tricked into approving a fraudulent transaction.

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