A retired Colorado teacher and her daughter have lost nearly $200,000 after scammers posed as an equity firm during a townhouse sale.
Vicki Ragl, 69, said she was in the process of buying a long-term home with her daughter Sarah when she learned they were victims of phone fraud.
“We went to closing on Friday, everyone was laughing and excited. We signed acres of papers,” Rachel said. Tell Fox 31 Denver.
Then one of the workers went to check on the husband’s money and that’s when the party stopped.
The lady of the title said, “Where did you send the money?” And I said, ‘I sent them to you,’ and she said, ‘We don’t have them,'” Ragel recalls.
Ragel told the Denver-based news station that the money was sent to an account not affiliated with the address company after unknown fraudsters hacked the email chain.
“At some point, the email thread got hacked and I started getting scam emails, and I didn’t recognize them as scam emails,” Ragel recalls.
Ragel, who was a middle school teacher for 42 years before retiring last July, said she lost her home and life savings.
“Listen, Vicky, not only do you not get the house, you have nothing left,” man said he said to the outlet.
In an email sent to Ragle by the ruthless hacker on March 1, the unsuspecting mother of two was told a quick refund and a full payment of nearly $200,000 within two days.
“I have applied and prepared closing documents and closing statements with a deadline of Friday 3/03,” the email read via Fox 31 Denver. “Attached, please see final closing statement. Amount due closing is $198,662.81. Polite reminder, as we require transfer of funds 48 hours prior to closing. Please advise when you are ready to transfer closed funds so I can forward title instructions for your procedures.”
Upon hearing the news of the loss of her life savings, Ragel collapses.
“All I can think about now is that I’m homeless and broke. I’m 69 and I’m broke and homeless now,” Ragel said.
“I think we got out of there and I actually vomited,” Ragel said, wiping tears from her eyes.
“I mean, I had to get you out of the title company,” said Sarah, a nurse in Colorado.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) called the scam a “business email hack” where “scammers forge or forge an interested party’s email account in order to change the real bank account into one they can control.”
The CBI says it is “working to collect or freeze as much money as possible so it can be returned to the original victim.”
The CBI also suggests never changing bank accounts from instructions via text message or email unless confirmed via a phone call.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do, you want to know the truth. I don’t know,” Ragel said before telling her daughter, “We’ll work it out somehow.”
GoFundMe Set up by one of Sarah’s co-workers, the pair said they lost it all.
Recently, Sarah and her retired mother tried to buy a home they could live in long term but were conned out of all their savings. When Sarah and her mother realized what had happened, it was too late to get their money back.”
The page has raised $66,800 of the target’s $200,000 target as of Friday morning.
“In 2022 in Colorado, the FBI received 504 complaints from a business settlement, costing victims nearly $54 million,” the FBI said in a statement obtained by Fox 31 Denver.
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