By David Karsh
CHARLOTTE COUNTY - Managing your money on-line can be a risky
proposition. One Southwest Florida family found out the hard way
after losing more than $50,000 to computer hackers.
A simple login in to a familiar web site revealed a nightmare.
"We looked at the account and instead of having $119,000, there was
only $56,000. At that point I said what's going on?" said Jeanette
Miller of Port Charlotte.
Miller manages her parents' money on an investment site called
E-Trade. Several major transactions were made over the past few days,
but none of them were by her.
"I said whatever you have going on in this account, everything from
December 12 until now has not been our doing. This is theft," said
In just over a week, half her parent's retirement savings has been
"My husband is 80, I'm 75. What can we do? That's all the money we
have left," said Traudle Simon.
Managing your money on-line is easy and convenient, but it can also be
very risky. If your account falls into the wrong hands, it can be
nearly impossible for investigators to track down the bad guy.
"It's really pretty frustrating because it's a complicated thing to
deal with," said Lieutenant Debbie Bowe of the Charlotte County
Anti-virus programs and firewalls are the best defense against
hackers, but once they get past those, it's way too easy for them to
make off with your money.
"Even though we may have a victim here, the suspect might be in a
foreign country or in a state a long distance from here. There's no
way we can actually investigate it," said Bowe.
Which means that most victims are on their own. Unfortunately, it's a
lesson that some people are learning the hard way.
E-Trade has not responded to our requests for an interview, but the
family said the company told them hackers broke into their account.
Detectives say this is becoming quite common in our area, but very few
arrests are ever made.
=A9 2005 by NBC2 News. All rights reserved.
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