Russian email scam targets Landis couple
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 16, 2013
LANDIS — Shelia and Richard Barry question whether they should keep their credit cards and if they can ever trust paying for anything online. The couple were surprised to learn someone had sent their 14-year-old son a message threatening to take Shelia to jail if the couple didn’t give into their monetary demands.
The couple’s son, A.J., saw the email via his iPad on Sunday and was alarmed at its contents. The email was addressed to A.J.’s Gmail account with the subject “Shelia Irene Barry, pedophile — it is Police. You have only 7 days to send $5000 for your freedom.”
Richard said his son brought the email to him and he showed it to his wife. Richard immediately knew the email was a scam, especially since the only thing his wife does on their computer is play games, he said. The email was from Alecsandr Borger of the “Russian Police.”
The email accuses Shelia of “purchasing child porn at illegal sites for pedophiles,” which Richard said was not true.
“Shelia was very upset. She said, ‘I don’t do that,’ ” Richard said.
The email also said “all personal data about you is now under our control.”
The email is complete with misspellings and incorrect grammar, but there is information that is correct, including the couple’s address, Shelia’s age, Richard’s name and their credit card number.
The couple both say they aren’t sure how the scammer received their information. The information is correct, which is what scares Shelia. The couple have since contacted Landis Police and canceled their credit card.
“I felt violated. They knew everything about me — my age, my address, my credit card number,” Shelia said.
The couple was concerned that although they knew this was a scam to obtain money from them, others may not know the difference. The Barrys, who are in their 60s, say they worry about older citizens or people with dementia who may believe the email and send money. “I don’t want someone else to go through what we’ve already gone through,” Shelia said.
“Are they gonna get scared and send it to them? That’s what’s scary,” Shelia said.
Shelia was in the Navy for 20 years. She worked on large mainframe computers and doesn’t work much with personal computers.
Richard went to the Landis Police Department Monday to speak with an officer and was later contacted by an investigator.
Detective Roger Hosey did not speak with the couple about their case, but said these types of scams are becoming more and more common. The information is captured by a person’s computer habits visiting legitimate sites, he said. The person conducting the scam can then access a person’s information through a “type of door” and monitor keystrokes or obtain credit card information.
Hosey recommends victims notify their credit card companies of any potential dangers, notify law enforcement and file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The website is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. He also encourages victims to have a professional or a computer savvy family member who could update the victim’s computer and make sure it’s protected against computer viruses.
To file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center visit www.ic3.gov.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253. Twitter: www.twitter.com/salpostpotts Facebook: www.facebook.com/Shavonne.SalisburyPost.