CHICAGO, IL (WBBM) — We’ve told you about lots of scams over the years, but this victim’s case is the biggest individual ripoff we can remember; nearly $100,000.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas explains how the promise of a discount on utilities led to a massive mistake.
Raj Shah knows bills can be high, especially in those Wood Dale winters. So when someone called offering half off his utility bills, it caught his attention.
They said they were with a group called Utility Warehouse. Shah asked why they wanted to pay for half his AT&T and Verizon bill.
“We are trying to get more customers,” he was told.
He gave them some information, and much to his surprise, “she sent me confirmation that she had paid my bill.”
Shah said he even checked his AT&T and Verizon accounts, and it appeared the bills really were paid.
The group convinced Shah to pay them 50% of the bills, totaling a couple hundred bucks.
Over the next few days, a supposed Utility Warehouse worker kept calling back with more offers, such as half off credit card bills and personal loans.
“Because they already paid my utility bills, and two of my credit cards, I didn’t think it was a scam,” Shah said.
Receipts show Shah made more than a dozen trips to two different banks in the suburbs, depositing cash by the thousands into what he thought were Utility Warehouse bank accounts, and he believed the bills were getting paid.
“One week later, everything was paid out; my utility bills, credit card, everything got reversed,” Shah said.
Reversed, as in those supposed bill payments did not actually go through, but his payments to the so-called Utility Warehouse were long gone. They even convinced him to send more money to fix the problem.
“Right now, I’m very frustrated,” Shah said.
How much money did he give to them total? $90,000.
It had nothing to do with the real Utility Warehouse, based in the United Kingdom.
Now the Wood Dale Police Department is investigating. Shah’s hoping they can help him get the money back for his kids’ medical school tuition.
“I saved those money for them so when in medical school I can help them out,” he said. “Every morning when I wake up in the morning, I stressed out. I stressed out. I stressed out.”
CBS 2 tried calling the scammers, and they didn’t answer. Shah said they made him feel more comfortable on the phone because they spoke Hindi.
“They’re trying to get Indian people, the Pakistani people, because they speak the Hindi,” Shah said.
It’s a lesson he learned the hard way, and if you don’t think it can happen to you, Shah said he’s a financial analyst.
The Wood Dale Police Department said it’s investigating this case, but would need help from the courts to access bank records, and that can take months. For info on avoiding scams, you can scroll through their Facebook page.
Chase Bank also issued the following statement: “We regret that Mr. Shah was the victim of an alleged scam. We are conducting an internal investigation, and if we have additional information that we’re able to share with him, we will. We recommend he continue working with law enforcement to resolve the matter.”
Chase advised that it has fraud protection information for customers on its security website.
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