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Houston artist says he was scammed out of $238K in life savings by someone claiming to be with FTC

A popular Houston artist was the victim of an impersonation scam. His colleagues have stepped up to help him while he tries to recover.

HOUSTON — A Houston artist said he needs the police’s help to find his money.

Hundreds of thousands in savings are gone, but he's sharing his story so others can be aware.

Richard Hall said someone impersonating a government agent “groomed” him and instructed him to move money around, draining his bank accounts.

Hall has an art studio at Sawyer Yards. That's where a lot of people got wind of what happened to him.

“They’ve all done so much for me, I can’t ever repay them back. And they say it’s because you do so much for us,” Hall said.

He said he wished he knew the signs to stop something like this from ever happening.

A few months ago, he got a call from a man posing as an officer from the Federal Trade Commission.

“He was so slick and so engaging that I wrapped right into it,” Hall said.

He said the man claimed he was investigating hackers targeting his bank accounts.

“(He) had me moving monies around from one account to the other using cashier's checks and wire transfers,” he said.

In mid-July, the bank alerted him to the fraud activity.

“Frankly, it was devastating, that’s all I can say, and he’s still trying to reach me, this crook,” Hall said.

He said he still gets text messages from the schemer. The Houston Police Department said it's looking into Hall’s claims. The scammer appeared to be calling from India.

The FBI said similar scams are on the rise. According to a release from their Los Angeles field office, adults over the age of 60 reported more than 88,000 complaints to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center with a total loss of $3.1 billion in 2022.

A colleague set up a GoFundMe account for Hall, which he is extremely grateful for.

“That’s the hardest part and knowing I was so naïve and suckered, but I can say this has been a wonderful community,” Hall said. "I learned a lesson and it’s a hard lesson, but I just want people to be extremely careful."

The Federal Trade Commission has tips on avoiding scams which include the following.

  • Don’t wire money, send cash, or use gift cards or cryptocurrency to pay someone who says they’re with the government
  • Don’t give your away your financial or other personal information
  • Don’t trust your caller ID
  • Don’t click on links in unexpected emails or text messages

Additional tips and information can be found on the FTC website.

The National Elder Fraud Hotline is 833-372-8311.

Troy Kless on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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