OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It’s a scary new scam with an Oklahoma City connection, after an alleged fraudster was caught in the metro stealing hundreds to thousands from unsuspecting folks two states away.
Data breaches are nothing new in this digital age, but the number of Americans affected is alarming.
If you know where to look, you can find some names, addresses, Social Security numbers, even banking information.
“I can’t put a number on how many people,” said Cyber Security Expert Geoff Wilson, with Go Security Pro. “But it’s a staggering amount.”
It was a breach of a handful of folks’ banking information that led to OKCPD taking the reigns on a cross-country investigation.
“Detectives were contacted by a bank out of state,” said Megan Morgan, with Oklahoma City Police. “That bank said they were having some fraudulent activity on multiple accounts within that institution.”
Court documents lay out a trend.
A handful of Tennesseeans received a text and a phone call, allegedly from their bank. The caller would ask the customer if a recent purchase from their account was legitimate.
The customer’s caller ID would in fact show their bank’s name, but there was a problem.
“They used caller ID spoofing,” said Wilson. “A lot of people don’t realize that the phone number that shows up on caller ID can be faked.”
Once on the phone, the suspect banker would pry for personal information to fix the fake problem.
Eventually, they would ask the customer to read back a texted code in order to move forward.
In reality, the fraudster was signing the customer up for a Samsung pay account against their will.
“What that verification code was, is Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay saying, ‘Hey, somebody is adding your credit card to your phone, do you authorize this,'” said Geoff. “‘Here’s the verification code to put in if you authorize this.'”
Soon as they get the code, the suspect strikes, purchasing gift cards at Target stores across the mtero.
Tennessee customers lost between $500 to $2,000.
“You’re already thinking, ‘Oh gosh, has my card been stolen,'” said Geoff. “So, you’re more willing to trust the other person on the other end of the line.”
But police say their suspect was a little too predictable.
Following an attempted gift card purchase, the bank tipped off OKCPD. Their target was at a Target store in Edmond.
Previously, their suspect had a pattern, and police thought they knew where he might head next.
Officers staked out a Target on North Penn and waited.
“[Eventually] they made contact,” said Megan. “Sure enough, it was the suspect.”
Polimis Borgella, a 23-years-old from Florida, now faces multiple fraud charges in Oklahoma.
This scam though seems to be in vogue coast to coast.
A bank out of Pennsylvania sent out a warning earlier this winter.
Geoff Wilson, though, says while the scam game may change, the tactics to beat it remains the same.
“There are things you can do that don’t change across scams,” said Geoff. “Making sure you’re talking to who you’re thinking you’re talking to. Verify identities before you provide sensitive information. Avoid providing that sensitive information over the phone and reporting the issue.”
The investigation continues.