DA – NBC 7 San Diego

A man who allegedly took part in scamming a 70-year-old Carlsbad woman out of around $1.4 million of her life savings has been charged by San Diego federal prosecutors with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday.

Prosecutors say Xilin Sun, 35, of Ontario, worked alongside a group of people who tricked the victim into handing her money over because she mistakenly believed her bank account information had been compromised.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the woman’s ordeal began with a pop-up message that appeared on her computer, which informed her that her computer had been hacked. When she called for help, multiple co-conspirators posing as tech support workers advised her to download software onto her computer.

Others posing as employees from her bank later told her that with her personal identifying and bank account information threatened, she needed to safeguard her money.

At the scammers’ direction, she deposited around $55,700 into Bitcoin ATMs and later sent three wire transfers totaling around $1,335,000 to a San Marcos precious metal business, according to investigators. She handed the purchased precious metals, which mostly consisted of gold, to scammers for supposed safekeeping, according to prosecutors, who said the woman had been told the gold bars would be sent to a secure U.S. Treasury locker.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the scammers reached out to her again in February, but the victim contacted the FBI this time and a fake gold delivery was set up.

The victim gave a package that the scammers believed contained $100,000 in gold to one co-conspirator. That person later allegedly handed the package off to Sun, who was arrested.

A similar San Diego case in which a local 65-year-old woman handed over $200,000 of her life savings to scammers recently led to state charges against one man.

That case similarly involved a computer pop-up message, a fake alert to fraud on her bank account, and a scheme to trick the woman into handing over her life savings to scammers under the guise of securing her money.

“If you think you may have been scammed, report it immediately,” said San Diego U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath in a statement. “These schemes are organized by sophisticated global networks with the ability to fool even the most savvy computer users. But if victims report quickly, we have a better chance of catching the scammers and retrieving stolen money.”

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