DENVER — A new twist on a common scam cost a Colorado man thousands of dollars of his life savings. He hopes by sharing his story, it will help other people avoid falling for it.

Joey Wishnia knows a thing or two about putting on a convincing performance. The Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement award winner has been acting since he was a young boy. Now at 86, he has many credits under his belt.

He was preparing for his upcoming show when he was targeted by a very common scam.

“The whole screen was taken over by this big announcement, purported to come from Microsoft to say my computer had been locked,” said Wishnia. “I called the number, it seemed genuine. I was told I was the victim of a scam and that some money was being used out of my savings account.”

The scam then took a different turn. The supposed customer service representative offered to add Wishnia’s bank to the secured phone call they were on, claiming that his computer and phone had been compromised. When he connected with an alleged representative from his bank, he was warned to be very careful about scammers.

“This guy from the bank asked me if I was sure about the guy from Microsoft, because a lot of scams are going on. That’s how clever they are. He said, ‘Give me his name, his phone number, his extension number, also his Microsoft ID. Give me all that information and I will call and see what I can find out,'” said Wishnia.

When the phoney bank representative got back, they confirmed everything was legitimate. With that added confidence, the scammers were able to convince Wishnia to go out and buy enough gift cards to equal the total money reportedly taken during the computer scam. They told him the higher ups at the bank would flag it all as suspicious activity, which would cancel all the stolen savings money transactions.

“When I heard ‘gift cards,’ I should have realized that. By this time, my brain was so muddled, I couldn’t think straight,” Wishnia said of the hours-long ordeal.

He was scammed out of around $5,000.

“The whole thing should have just set alarms going, but it didn’t. They just sucked me in all the way. So be careful. They are very, very clever,” Wishnia said.

His friends launched a fundraiser that replaced all of the stolen funds.

“When I was so down and anti-the human race, suddenly all this good and kindness of people. It just, it was overwhelming,” Wishnia said.

He hopes by sharing his story, it’ll help encourage others to do their due diligence, no matter how convincing the scammers can be.

Experts say when in a situation where you want to verify who you are talking to, just hang up the call and call back the company’s official number directly. They will be able to tell you if the call was legitimate.

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