LATROBE, Pa. (KDKA) — A local couple lost $18,000 after scammers claimed to be with the federal government and used specific information to drain the couple’s bank account.
On Friday, Phyllis Hood received a call from people claiming to be United States Department of the Treasury employees.
They told her that her social security number was being used.
She said the scammer knew her name, social security number and address before calling her.
“There’s a lot of sick people out there. They make it sound so real,” Hood said.
The scammers told her to go to several stores in Latrobe and Greensburg to buy gift cards worth hundreds of dollars.
At one point, a store employee questioned if someone was forcing her to do this.
“I lied and told her no and said I was buying them for Christmas gifts,” Hood told KDKA. “Because they told me not to dare say there was a problem because they don’t want it to get out what’s going on.”
She stayed on the phone with the scammers and read them the serial numbers from the cards.
In all, they got about $18,000 from her account.
“Everything we have,” she said.
Hood and her husband had been saving to get a remodeled bathroom since they both have health problems.
Now the couple doesn’t know how the bills are going to get paid, as they are living off social security.
“Very, very tightly,” Hood said. “There’s not going to be Christmas, I can tell you that.”
The couple is dealing with all of this after having lost a granddaughter, who passed away at college.
“Sick to my stomach. I’ve been through a lot this week, let alone dealing with losing every bit of the money we had,” Hood said.
Hood said her bank could not get any of the money back.
Hood has reached out to the state police and the attorney general’s office.
They are sending paperwork to her to try and help during this tough time.