Posted: Aug 9, 2013 4:58 PM by Megan Schultz, KOMU 8 Reporter
Updated: Aug 9, 2013 11:13 PM
COLUMBIA - A woman wants her money back after she claims she got scammed by people who said they were Internet providers.
Two weeks ago, Jean Haislip received a phone call while on the computer. The caller said she had detected Haislip's computer was about to crash. The caller asked Haislip if she needed help fixing her computer, but Haislip said no because her computer was running fine.
Haislip said while she was still on the phone, her computer started running very slowly and then suddely froze. The lady on the phone asked Haislip if she was sure she didn't want help and the caller said she was going to connect Haislip to a technician.
Haislip said she didn't want help and hung up the phone.
"I just didn't want to fool with it," Haislip said.
About an hour after that phone call, a different person with a different phone number called and asked if Haislip's computer was running. Haislip said it wasn't and asked if the caller was with CenturyLink. The person said yes and that he could fix the computer. Haislip agreed, and then the caller asked for her debit card information and what payment plan she wanted.
The caller said Haislip could have repairs for one year for $100, two years for $200, or a lifetime for $300.
"I said no, I don't want a lifetime," Haislip said. "Just a year will be fine."
Haislip said the caller was very adamant she should have a lifetime deal.
"I said no, I really don't feel I want the lifetime. I'm getting up there I don't need a lifetime anymore," Haislip said. "But they said no, go ahead and get a lifetime. It's the best deal."
Haislip agreed to the lifetime deal if the caller promised not to send the payment through until the first of the month when her social security check came in the mail.
"They said, that would be fine," Hailslip said. "I gave them a debit card and I bet it wasn't five minutes they had it through that bank."
After getting Haislip's payment information, the caller led her through a series of steps to set up the computer for repair.
"They fooled with it for hours. I couldn't touch it for hours," Haislip said. "I thought well it's no good to me, just doing nothing, so I let them do what they were suppossed to do, 'supposed to'."
Haislip said she left her computer alone that night after the conversation. But when she went to use it the next morning, the computer was running very slowly. The company that claimed it would fix the computer never did, and she thinks the company actually gave her computer the virus on purpose.
She called the company at both numbers, and asked for the manager. A lady promised she would have the manager call Haislip back. The lady also said Haislip's contract was canceled and Haislip wasn't in the system. When Haislip hadn't heard back from the manager all day, she kept calling but the company never answered again.
She says she caught on to the scam because the next day she received a letter from CenturyLink saying it could update her computer.
Haislip was confused because she thought she had her computer updated the day before. She called CenturyLink and reported what had happened.
CenturyLink told her no one called her to update her computer since it handles the Internet and not personal computers.
"That's what made me call the bank and ask if the charge went through," said Haislip.
The bank said the charge went through immediately.
"I thought uh oh," Haislip said.
She called CenturyLink and asked if someone there could fix her computer. CenturyLink said it doesn't work with individual computers, although she said the Internet provider did tell her it was a scam.
Haislip said her computer is still broken. It runs slowly, and she gets dozens of spam emails with pictures of naked women and advertisements for Viagra.
"I get a lot of spam mail, and a lot of it is the same thing over and over and over," Haislip said.
She said she can't afford to fix what the scam company was supposed to fix.
"I was hooked in. I was reeled in."
Haislip said no names were on the caller ID's of the company's numbers, and that she can't remember the name of the company the callers used. She also said one of the numbers was a 1-800 number, one had a California area code, and another said it was from the UK.
Haislip said she has called the Columbia Police and the FBI. The police said they couldn't help her, and the FBI hasn't called her back yet.
Haislip is frustrated because she says her friend in Millerburg has also fallen for the scam. She said her friend answered calls from the same numbers and agreed to the computer repairs. But, her friend paid with a credit card and was able to stop the payment before it went through. While her friend got her money back, Haislip has not.
"They're not going to give me back my money," said Haislip. "That's what it all boils down to."
KOMU 8 News also called the numbers on Haislip's caller ID but wasn't able to get through to anyone.
The Missouri Attorney General's Office said it's looking into the possibility of similiar scams. It advised people who have experienced anything like this to report it to the Consumer Protection Hotline by calling 1-900-392-8222 or by filing a complaint online.
CenuryLink encouraged people to never give out credit card information or computer passwords over the phone.