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Telephone Scammers Trick Man Into Giving Up $180,000 in Life Savings

A Sylvania Township man is having trouble sleeping after being scammed out of his life savings.

Rama Bhamidipati, a software engineer, came to the U.S. from India on a work visa 10 years ago.

He dreamed of saving enough money so he could go back home to his family wealthy and successful, so he worked long hours and eventually saved up close to $180,000.

But when he picked up the phone on the afternoon of June 13, his hard work was in jeopardy.

“I received a call from a local police station number,” Bhamidipati said.

The voice on the other end of the line claimed to be someone from the Sylvania Township Police Department. They said they needed to transfer him to an FBI agent, and then someone from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after that.

One by one, they all accused him of some very serious crimes.

Bhamidipati said he was told “there were some drugs being distributed under your [Social Security Number]. There are some terrorist activities going on.”

He was told authorities were prepared to arrest him if he didn’t cooperate. But, they said there was a way to avoid that.

“First thing is we need to get you a new SSN and you need to freeze all your accounts and everything,” Bhamidipati said.

The scammers faxed him a mountain of official-looking paperwork to fill out and told him to transfer all of his money — stocks and cash — into a Chase Bank account so they could monitor his finances.

Bhamidipati said he was given one rule: “They mentioned that you can discuss with your attorney, but not anyone else.”

But he doesn’t have an attorney, so he kept the issue to himself, and over the following week he dutifully filled out each sheet of fake documentation, sold his company shares and transferred every hard-earned cent of his into the bank account.

The scammers called again the next day, saying the Chase Bank account wouldn’t work and that a government-monitored bank account in Hong Kong would be safer.

So, Bhamidipati received the transfer request and hit send. He never saw his money or heard back from the people claiming to be government agents again.

“I immediately ran to the local police and filed a complaint. I ran to the Chase Bank and pleaded,” he said.

But he said no one could stop the transfer, not even U.S. Sen. Marcy Kaptur and the FBI. Sylvania Township police also consider Bhamidipati’s case closed.

Now, Bhamidipati’s dreams of bringing wealth home to his family are back to square one.

Lane Montz, the president and CEO of Toledo’s Better Business Bureau, says Bhamidipati’s situation is an example of why you should always second-guess the voice on the other end of the phone.

“There are so many red flags here, but it’s always easy to see them in hindsight after you know it’s a scam,” Montz said. “One of them is being contacted by a government official purely by phone. In all of these scams, the main focus is to get you scared or hopeful. In this case, scared.”

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READ 16 COMMENTS
  • Bob says:

    I’m sure none of them had Middle Eastern accents!! People are so gullible. If this happened last June, why are we hearing about it now?

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