A WWII Navy veteran living in Chandler, Arizona, had his life savings stolen.
Jack Holder, 94, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, flew in the WWII Battle of Midway and over the English Channel in a B-24, KPHO reports.
"I've seen devastation that I'll never forget," Holder said of the attacks he witnessed at the age of 18 at Pearl Harbor.
His career in the Navy and later in various industries, including oil, the airlines and professional golf, did not protect him from falling victim to a scam.
Holder received a call from someone claiming to be from Publisher’s Clearing House who said he had won $4.7 million and a Mercedes Benz.
"I'd entered their drawings years ago, and they said they keep the entries for many years," he said.
The scam artists told Holder he had to pay taxes before he could collect the prizes.
Holder believed the thieves, and followed their instructions to open a new bank account, the New York Daily News reports. That account had money transferred into it from the thieves, but Holder was unaware the money came from his own savings account.
Holder and his fiance, 78-year-old Ruth Calabro, sent checks from the new bank account to New York for the tax payments. They thought the money they were sending was from the Publisher’s Clearing House winnings, but instead they were inadvertently clearing out their savings.
The couple sent the thieves a total of $43,000.
When the thieves asked Holder to pay an installment fee in $100 bills tucked into a magazine, he realized it had all been a scam.
“I’m completely devastated," Holder told KPHO. "I can’t believe how stupid I was."
“They took all I had,” Calabro said. “Now I don’t have anything.”
The couple contacted Bank of America to file a fraud report, but the bank said little could be done to get the money back, the New York Daily News reports.
Holder said he did not receive a notification that money was transferred out of his savings account.
The thieves called Holder after the scam was completed to see how he was doing.
“And I said, ‘Well, you son of a bitch, how do you think I’m doing? You stole all my money,'” he said.
Holder has been forced to make life changes following the scam. The 94-year-old is renting rooms in his home for extra money, and has enrolled in real estate school so he can go back to work to recoup what he lost.
The scam has also taken a toll on how he views the world.
"I grew up in a different time, where you could trust people," Holder said. "We never locked our doors growing up ... It's plain to see now that people out there are not all trustworthy. Those times are gone."