White House Adviser Gets Scammed Out of More Than $655,000

By: Ben Campbell | Published: Dec 26, 2023

Frances Sharples valiantly served the government for more than four decades, only to be scammed out of a large sum of money by unforgiving criminals before being attacked by her former employers.

The former Science Advisor had built up quite the retirement fund from her years working with the government. Yet, she would soon become another victim of the global scamming network.

Worst Decision of her Life

Sharples walked through the doors of her local credit union office to make a significant withdrawal from her savings. This happened one morning after she received a call from an unknown man, claiming her identity had been stolen.

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Woman lifts out a large sum of money from a bank teller

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The man promised he could save her extensive retirement fund, yet she would have to do exactly what he said. So, she entered the office with a script produced by the man and was told to transfer more than $600,000.

Plan Gets Put Into Action

The scammer kept Sharples on the phone throughout the entirety of the visit to the credit union so he could listen to her.

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Man smirks as he speaks on the phone from the comfort of his white desk

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He instructed her if anyone asked whether or not she was put up to it, she was to reply, “No, absolutely not,” and no one did. She handed the clerk the routing number, and the retired scientist returned to her car and drove home.

Prosperous Career Working For the U.S. Government

Sharples, the daughter of a humble plumber, held a science doctorate. She made a living advising the federal government on new energy technologies, stem cell research, and the effects of biological weapons.

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Female scientist works on testing biological material in laboratory

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Yet, despite a long history of meticulousness, Sharples would become another victim targetted by a global network of online criminals. Soon, she would willingly help a man with an unusual accent make off with her life savings.

Government Turns Their Back on Sharples

The government has added further insult to injury by claiming that the 73-year-old Sharples had to pay hefty taxes on the stolen money.

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Tax Agent works through an extensive amount of receipts using a calculator

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According to the federal government, the stolen money is considered a form of income. Tax specialists later informed the retired scientist that someone in her position could face a hefty six-figure bill.

Sharples Gets Hit Twice

The story surrounding Sharples, in which criminal scammers first hit her before being pursued by her own government, is a reminder of the nation’s vulnerability to cybercrime.

A Hacker dressed in all black uses his laptop during a scam

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It also sheds light on the inconsistencies of how fraud victims are treated in the United States by tax agents.

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Victim Left With Nothing

Law enforcement officers and tax experts such as Ismael Guerra, a retired IRS criminal investigator, allude to the fact that Sharples was the only one to lose in this scenario.

Tax agent looks over financial records of a client’s savings in his office

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“The scammers get away, the government gets its piece, and she gets nothing,” said Guerra.

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Rising Problems With Global Scammers

Current law enforcement officials say Sharples, like thousands of other unsuspecting victims, are snagged by global scammers each year.

Scammer covers his face with a mask as he works on his phone

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The scammers implement tactics of telemarketing films and weaponize technological annoyances of modern life and human vulnerabilities in their scams. All of which convince people they are in immediate danger.

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Don’t Blame Yourself

Experts have reached out to Sharples during interviews on the topic and assured her there’s no need to blame herself, as thousands have fallen for the same scam.

Woman is frustrated and feels sorry for herself following a recent incident

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But she is a retired scientist, and the scammers put compelling evidence before her. Ultimately, it proved impossible to ignore.

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The Tech Support Scam

Sharple’s troubles all began last February. A giant red sign filled her screen as she was browsing the internet. It was followed up with a warning and instructions.

A faceless man wearing a grey shirt speaks on his phone

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According to the message, her identity had just been stolen. She must protect herself by calling Microsoft at the 800 number provided on the screen.

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Elaborate and Compelling Evidence

A man with a European-sounding accent picked up the call and identified himself as Petar Williams of Microsoft. From there, he explained she had been compromised, and three attempts had been made to withdraw funds from her account.

Scammer dressed in all black works at his desk with a monitor on in the background

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The scammer convinced Sharples they needed to act now if she wanted to ensure her savings stayed put. So, off she went to the credit union with a note in hand.

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Classic Scam

It was a classic tactic that’s been well-documented by the FBI. According to their records, the amount of money lost to such scams reached over $800 million last year.

FBI agents work from their desks during a recent case

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Experts claim that scammers funnel victims to malicious websites by promoting tainted ads and search results. Once on the website, all they need to do is send through a dramatic warning signal that many people struggle to ignore.

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