GRAHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- It was supposed to be a fresh start for Karla Timpani. She had just closed on her new home in Graham and things were looking up.
Then the Alamance County resident became the victim of a scammer and lost $23,000. Now, she is living in a financial nightmare.
"I think I'm never going to be the same. I'll just have to go through life not trusting anybody anymore," said Timpani after being scammed out of $23,000.
"I was so excited about moving into this house and (it) even took my joy from that," Timpani said.
It started when she got an email that claimed to be from iTunes that stated she signed up for a membership and was charged $126.
"It said if you didn't sign up for this email to call them so I did," she said.
When she called who she thought was iTunes to dispute the $126 charge, "he said, OK, we'll give you a refund. Go to your computer screen, check on this, check on that. Go to anydesk.com and that gives them control of your computer."
Timpani gave the man who called himself Sam remote access to her computer and followed his instructions.
"He said to put in the amount of the refund which is $126. So I started putting in 126; well, the numbers took off and I said, 'I just put in 126' and it went $12,600 and Sam started yelling, you put in too much money. I'm gonna lose my job. I have small children at home, you have to pay this back and I said, how am I supposed to do that? I mean, I really thought I did make a mistake," she added.
Since Sam had control of her computer, he made it seem like an extra $12,600 went into her account. To make it right, he told Timpani she had to pay it back and instructed her to go to her bank and withdraw a large chuck of cash.
"He said go buy Apple gift cards and I said, where do you do that? So he looked it up." He texted her exactly where and how to buy $7,400 worth of Apple gift cards from different stores.
"I bought them and he wanted me to take pictures of them plus the receipts and text them to him. I did." That gave Sam access to those Apple gift cards. She thought this would all be over, and he would give her back control of her computer but instead "by accident" Sam said he put an extra $14,000 in her account, which she says he told her she'd have to pay that back. She says she was told, "Go to the bank tomorrow and take out $13,800 in cash, which I did. It was a stack about that tall."
With this cash, he then had a new plan.
Timpani said Sam told her, "I'm gonna find you a place to go buy Bitcoin I said 'Bitcoin? What for, and I don't even know how to buy Bitcoin.'"
However, Sam directed Timpani to the exact places to buy Bitcoin and then how to buy it. After doing all of that, he wanted even more money.
"I said this cannot continue," Timpani said. "It was a day and a half of hell. I was afraid he wouldn't relinquish my account."
Timpani went to her bank and learned this was all one big scam. She said she was told by the bank personnel, "They've been taking money out of your savings and putting it in your checking account all this time, and I just I just freaked out."
Her $23,000 of savings were gone.
"I've been saving that money for I don't know how long," she said. With her savings gone, the projects for her new home were no longer a reality.
"I can't get any appliances or anything for my house and these have been here since this house was built," she said. "They don't even work."
Timpani contacted the police, who are investigating, and also Apple, the FBI and FTC.
When it comes to the email that started it all, it's a fake, instead, it was just a scammer pretending to be with iTunes. The red flags that you should always look at are the sender's email address as with this one it came from a Gmail account.
Also, spelling and grammatical errors are red flags.
You should also never reply to or call the number on these emails. Instead, see whether your bank or credit card is even charged what the email is claiming. Remember any time you are asked to buy gift cards or prepaid cards it's a big red flag that it's a scam.
Also, never give anyone who you don't know access to your computer. Timpani said she was so caught up in the scam and fearful since Sam had control of her computer that "I was afraid he wouldn't relinquish my account. I had no idea he was moving my money into that account and I was using my own money. How stupid is that? But he was just you know, it was a real smooth talker. Just so genuine."
Even after Timpani learned it was a scam and lost thousands, the scammer continued to contact her countless times trying to get more money. Besides this being a huge financial loss, Timpani said that each day trying to pick up the pieces is tough.
"The way you beat yourself up, and its mental anguish ... it's embarrassing," she said.