NewsChannel 3 Investigates

Tipline Investigation: Hackers steal from Santa Maria cancer patient

The hackers stole money from donated gift cards

Tipline Investigation Hackers steal from Santa Maria cancer patient

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - NewsChannel 3 helped a Santa Maria woman fighting battles on two fronts: her health and hackers.

She tried handling it on her own but finally gave in and called the NewsChannel 3 Tipline for help.

In July 2018, Debbie McCoy was diagnosed with cancer. The diagnosis came just one month after moving from Santa Barbara to Santa Maria.

"Now I have to go back and forth everyday for five days a week to get my radiation for four to six weeks, something like that," said McCoy as she spoke with NewsChannel 3 for the first time.

McCoy, who's a nurse, said the medical bills and all that driving and tanks of gas took a toll on her budget.

"My social worker at the cancer center suggested I apply for this grant," said McCoy.

A Pasadena nonprofit called Bloomagain gave McCoy ten $100 gift cards.

"Fortunately, all five gift cards from Ralphs worked. But only one of the five cards from Chevron worked, so I have four of them that are no good to me," said McCoy with a disgusted look on her face.

McCoy said she could really use that $400. She's been out of work and the bills are adding up.

"It's been actually really frustrating and actually sort of depressing. I was trying to struggle with the news of having breast cancer," said McCoy.

Now this: McCoy said the radiation zapped all of her energy, but she managed to call Chevron. I couldn't help. She called Bloomagain, the group that purchased the gift cards from a Ralphs store.

"And they said, just go to any Ralph's. Well, I've been to four of them," said McCoy.

That didn't work. She says the folks at the cancer center were awesome and tried to help, but nothing worked for eight months. 

"So I'm sorta stuck. I'm stuck between one mega company and another mega company and nobody seems to want to help me, except you," said McCoy with a sound of hope in her voice.

We did some digging and found and contacted the company that issued the gift cards for Ralphs and Chevron. A representative agreed to trace the card numbers for us and figure out when and where they were used. The company determined the cards were hacked and issued four new gift cards to McCoy worth $400.

"I'm so thrilled, but I am now the proud recipient of four gas cards from Chevron and, yes, I have my money. I had to make sure they all worked and they did. The only thing I have to say is, thank you very much C.J," said McCoy holding up the four new gas cards.

A spokesperson for the gift card company told NewsChannel 3 it does have a pretty good idea what happened to the first cards that were hacked and how the hackers did it. But, we're not going to give any details because all that would do is maybe give someone else the idea.

Bloomagain, Ralphs and Chevron are all victims in this as well. In fact, all of us are victims because whatever the hackers steal is passed on to us somehow.

The best news from this whole story is McCoy is cancer free.

The NewsChannel 3 Tipline number is 805-882-3903. Please keep in mind that we try to call back as many people as possible, but it's impossible to call everyone back. We apologize.


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