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Elderly scam victim gets life's savings back from company that was also victimized

Scammers are believed to be overseas
Posted at 6:05 PM, Dec 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-27 18:05:52-05

The ABC Action News I-Team is getting results for an elderly scam victim who wired nearly $19,000 to a computer company offering a bogus refund.

“Thank you so much,” said 84-year-old Marilyn Sugalski when we visited her at her Bradenton home Wednesday.

She got her life savings of $18,750 back from a stranger just before Christmas.

“I felt like there was a thousand pounds lifted off of me,” Sugalski said.

Overseas scammers repeatedly contacted Sugalski by email, text and phone, eventually convincing her to withdraw all of the money from her bank account.

“They get into your head. And when they keep calling you 12, 14 times a day, you're to the point you just want it over with, done with,” said Sugalski.

“My dad and her worked their entire lives for that,” said Sugalski’s daughter Katie Jeszkowski. “And it was gone in the blink of an eye because of some scum. “

It's all a little complicated, but this is what we know: Sugalski deposited the money into an account number the scammers gave her from a Wells Fargo Bank. The account belonged to Bridge View Paper Company in Philadelphia who believed the money was intended to pay for a paper order from a customer in India, which they had already shipped.

The company didn't know anything about it until we contacted them, but they agreed to send Sugalski her money back, while they try to sort out whether their customer was a suspect or a victim.

“I thank the company so much for believing in me, that I wasn't trying to scam them out of money,” said Sugalski.

“I cried. I couldn't thank them enough for doing the right thing,” said Jezkowski.

Sugalski says she won't fall for anything like that again, and has advice for anyone contacted by strangers seeking money.

“Delete, hang up, block,” she said.

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