COAL TOWNSHIP — A 69-year-old Coal Township man lost approximately $3,500 after being scammed by a man claiming that Microsoft Corporation owed him money, according to Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz.

The victim spoke to a man who told him a large division of the Microsoft was about to close down and money was owed to those with certain company products. The caller told the victim that Microsoft owed him $280 and the case would be handled electronically, the DA said.

A Microsoft Word document was electronically sent to the victim, which appeared to be an official document from the Chase Manhattan Bank. He was instructed to complete the information requested — name, date of birth and financial institution — and specifically indicate the dollar amount owed to him, the DA said.

Once completed, the caller told the victim he made a mistake and wrote down $2,800 instead of $280. The victim denied making a mistake but could no longer see the form and assumed he could have made a mistake. The caller told him he now had to pay $2,520 to Microsoft before the $280 payment to the victim would be released, the DA said. 

The victim was instructed to go to Walmart and purchase five gift cards in the amount of $500 each, which would satisfy the amount owed. After returning home with the gift cards, he was instructed to scan the numbers from these cards to the caller, the DA said.

The next day, the victim went online to check his savings account balance and noticed the account had been emptied. He reported the incident to the bank and they locked the account, the DA said. 

— JUSTIN STRAWSER