Tech support call leads to identity theft

Staples offered her a $50 gift card for her troubles

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — When your printer or computer stops working, you trust the experts to help. But in Catherine Chapin’s case — the experts made it worse.

Chapin lives in North Kingstown and is an artist. On her computer she had art and designs from the past 20 years. When it all got stolen, she was heartbroken.

“It was just devastating,” she told Call 12 For Action. Chapin says she unknowingly gave hackers access into her computer, and then they stole all of her personal information.

She says it all started when an employee at Staples gave her the number for HP Tech Support. Catherine says she spent hours on the phone with a so-called “IT Tech Expert” who turned out to be a schemer.

According to Catherine, Staples admitted that their employee had googled “IT tech support,” as opposed to looking up the legitimate number.

“Even if you googled ‘technical support’ for HP support, you may get a fraudulent website, or the real one. And you won’t know,” Detective Jesse Jarvis of the North Kingstown Police Department said.

Catherine did not know until it was too late.

“She unfortunately made it easy for them by giving them access. They talked her through a process to open up ports on her computer to allow them into it,” Det. Jarvis said.

Staples apologized to Catherine and offered her a $50 gift card for her troubles, but she refused, saying her financial problems are now worth a lot more than $50.

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