Frost advisory for all of southeast Wisconsin 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday

Woman scammed out of her savings: ‘I just don’t want anybody to go through what I went through’

HALES CORNERS -- A Hales Corners woman lost her entire life savings.  It all began with a phone call.

The woman, who asked to only be identified as Kris, frantically purchased 29 gift cards worth $6,500.

"Apparently, they were used within a half hour," she said. "They were scaring me."

The woman said two men claiming to be agents for the Social Security Administration told her she needed to purchase the cards.

"They said my life was in danger," Kris said. "It's hard to lose that kind of money."

In April, she got a call from a man claiming a car rented fraudulently in her name was used for drug trafficking, and that money laundering was taking place.

"He proceeded to tell me that I needed to protect my money," Kris explained.

Through calls and texts, she was convinced to put all of her money on gift cards that she bought from Target, Walmart and 7-Eleven. She read the card numbers over the phone and the money was gone.

"I was just so rattled by it all. I just wasn't thinking," Kris said.

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau says scammers try to elicit an emotional response.

"Remember, scammers rely on emotion. If you're happy, if you're sad, if you're scared, you're not going to be thinking as clearly as if you weren't emotional," said Jim Temmer, president and CEO of the Wisconsin BBB.

Temmer said the Social Security Administration will never call you to ask for money or tell you to transfer money through gift cards.

"If you have doubts about what's going on, call a family member, call a neighbor, your banker, anyone you trust, and say, 'Hey, this is going on. I'm not sure if this is right or not,'" advised Temmer.

It could have been worse for Kris. She was in the process of liquidating her bonds when the fraudsters told her to send the money to an address in Hong Kong. It was at that moment she realized she'd been scammed.

Kris is on a fixed income. She won't get her money back. All she can do is share her story.

"I just don't want anybody to go through what I went through," she said.

Contact 6 reached out to the companies from the gift cards purchased by Kris. A Target spokesperson responded with this statement:

"We are aware of the prevalence of scams like these and we take a multi-layered, comprehensive approach to preventing theft and fraud that includes partnerships with local law enforcement, technology and team member training.

We have signage in our stores and share general safety tips with our team members through training, so they can stay alert and help guests as best as they can at our registers."

In addition, the spokesperson said they offer tips online to help out customers. You can find that HERE.

If you think you've been targeted by a scam involving the Social Security Administration, report it. You can fill out a fraud reporting form online or call  1-800-269-0271.

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