Woman loses $17,000 in gift card scam perpetrated by Microsoft security impostor

CHICAGO (CBS) — Two stores, 34 gift cards, $17,000 – A suburban shopper told store security the purchase was for a wedding gift.

Now she’s paying for that lie. As CBS 2’s Lauren Victory reported, the woman truly fell victim to a chilling scam that left her betrayed and broken.

Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg was the site of a post-Christmas shopping spree that Cynthia DeSimone still regrets months later — and it wasn’t her idea at all.

” Dumb. You’re the. You feel stupid – because I consider myself pretty smart, you know? said DeSimone, tearfully recapping the frustrating situation that began in January.

A message with audio appeared on her computer while she was online. She took a shaky recording of it to show her more tech-savvy relatives.

“Please do not attempt to shut down or restart your computer,” the recording reads.

“The video instructs me saying, ‘Please call support immediately because you’re compromised,'” said DeSimone – who panicked and called the number on the screen that showed a Microsoft signal next to it.

“It looks real. The logos are there. They respond and they’re very calm,” she explained.

According to DeSimone, the Microsoft impostor told her that the hackers had her financial information, but that she should go to the nearest mall and buy gift cards to max out the crooks’ credit cards so they can’t buy anything.

They urged her to hurry.

“They’re so good at making sure you can’t think,” DeSimone said.

DeSimone listened and spent $9,000 at Macy’s and another $8,000 at JCPenney – where security even questioned his unusually large purchase.

“I told them [JCPenney security] exactly what those Microsoft men told me – that [the gift cards] are marriage; for wedding gifts,” DeSimone said.

She left the mall with 34 gift cards worth $17,000, then read all the card numbers and matching pins to fake customer service who promised DeSimone the stores would refund her.

Of course, that didn’t happen.

“I was robbed, so I don’t want anyone else to feel like this,” she said, tears in her eyes again.

A quick search for “Microsoft Windows Defender Scam” shows that a similar alarming message has popped up for many people over the past year – but not everyone falls as hard as DeSimone.

“I had no peace,” she said of why she did the interview with CBS 2. As a woman of faith, she thinks God may be using her struggle to teach others.

Macy’s and Capital One eventually reimbursed him $9,000.

Recently, DeSimone, who is on a fixed income, paid her US bank bill for the $8,000 fee at JCPenney to avoid being sent to collections. For months, this store and this bank refused to return his money. DeSimone tells us the US Bank told him they couldn’t give him the money if the seller didn’t agree.

She said JCPenney closed her case and found her liable.

“They said you walked in and got the product you wanted,” DeSimone said.

We called the customer support number that showed up on DeSimone’s screen. He was offline.

Meanwhile, US Bank said it was looking into the matter.

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