A retired Colorado teacher and her daughter lost nearly $200,000 after scammers posed as a title company during a townhouse sale.
Vicki Ragle, 69, said she was in the process of buying a long-term townhome with her daughter Sarah when she learned they were victims of wire fraud.
“We went to closing on Friday, everyone was laughing and excited. We signed acres of papers,” Ragle told Fox 31 Denver.
One of the workers then went to check the pair’s funds and that’s when the party stopped.
“The title lady said, ‘Where did you send the funds to?’ And I said, ‘I sent them to you,’ and she said, ‘We don’t have them,’” Ragle recalled.
The funds were sent to an account not affiliated with the title company after the email chain was hacked by unknown scammers, Ragle told the Denver-based news station.
“At some point the chain of emails got hacked and I started getting fraudulent emails, didn’t recognize them as fraudulent emails,” Ragle recalled.
Ragle, who was a middle school teacher for 42 years before retiring last July, said she lost both the townhouse and her life savings.
“Listen Vickie, not only do you not get the house, you have nothing left,” Ragle told the outlet.
In an email sent to Ragle by the ruthless hackers on March 1, the unsuspecting mother-of-two was told a fast response and full payment of nearly $200,000 was needed within two days.
“I went ahead and prepared the closing documents and closing statements with the closing date of Friday 3/03,” the email stated, via Fox 31 Denver. “Attached please find the final closing statement. The amount due to close is $198,662.81. Polite reminder, As we require funds to be remitted 48 hours prior to closing. Kindly advise when you will be ready to remit the closing funds so I can forward the title instructions for your actions.”
Upon hearing the news of losing her life savings, Ragle broke down.
“All I could think is now I’m homeless and broke. I’m 69 years old and now I’m broke and homeless,” Ragle said.
“I think we walked out of there and I threw up as a matter of fact,” Ragle said while wiping tears from her eyes.
“I mean I pretty much had to carry you out of the title company,” said Sarah, who is a nurse in Colorado.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) called the scam “business email compromise” where “scammers will spoof or fake an email account from interested party in order to get the true bank account changed to one they can control.”
The CBI says it “works to capture or freeze as much of the funds as possible so they can be returned to the original victim.”
The CBI also suggests never changing bank accounts from instructions over text or email unless it is confirmed over a phone call.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do it you want to know the truth. I don’t know,” Ragle said before telling her daughter, “We’ll make it, we’ll get it figured out somehow.”
A GoFundMe set up by one of Sarah’s coworkers says said the pair lost everything.
“Recently, Sarah and her retired mother attempted to buy a house where they could reside for the long-term future but were conned out of all of their savings. When Sarah and her mother realized what had happened, it was too late to recover their money,” the page read.
The page has raised $66,800 of the targeted $200,000 goal as of Friday morning.
“In 2022 in Colorado, the FBI received 504 complaints of business compromise, costing victims nearly $54 million,” the FBI said in a release obtained by Fox 31 Denver.