This story has been submitted by a local resident to warn others of a scam she got mixed up in.
On Monday morning September 18, I received an Instant Message (IM) from a friend I went to school with. She asked, “Did you hear any news yet?” I replied, “On anything special? I have not heard anything.” She replied, “Did you hear, I got $90,000 from the Department of Health and Human Services. They are helping the working aged, retired, disabled, and old for progression in the society.”
I answered, “OMG NO... how can I get in on that?” She replied back to me with, “You have not gotten yours? You need to contact the agent. Your name is on the list, I saw it. Click the link below and you will get her on the agent page on Facebook (FB).”
Okay, now understand this is from one of my friends on FB. She was in my sister’s class in school, and she has family living in Monticello. Her picture is on the IM.
My heart started beating faster and faster. I clicked on the link and a FB page came up with the agent's picture and name, Leona Rogers, ID#100015258277746! The IM read, “Hello, how are you doing and are you ready to claim your win money now? What is your full name so I can check and see if your name is still on the winners’ list?” I told her and she asked me to hold on while she checked the data base.
Now, all the time this is going on, my friend is steady sending me IM's and telling me that it's a dream come true, and how it's changed her life. She's telling me that I will receive the money within four hours after I fill out the claim forms.
The agent said, “You will need to fill out this claim form so we can get destination when delivering the money.” The form asked for my address, email address, text phone number, occupation, male or female, age, cash or check. I sent an IM to my friend and said, “They asked, cash or check.” She replied, “I took cash.” To which I replied, “I am not giving my social security number if they ask!” She said, “They don't.”
The agent wrote back, “Am glad to confirm that your name was among the randomly picked of selected profiles on facebook.com. Congratulations!”
My heart was pounding so hard, I broke out with a sweat. I wanted to call my brother, sister, and cousin so badly to give them the link to click on to see if they too could get some money. But, I decided I'd better wait to see if I received anything within four hours.
On down the line, the agent came back to me asking me to pay a $500 delivery fee. I said, “NO! I do not have that much money.” I told my friend about this and she said, “Oh yes, pay it and you will have your cash within four hours.” Well, after some back and forth bickering, the agent said, “I really want you to have the money. Give me half an hour and I'll get back with you.” A half hour later she pops up and says, “OK, they will be on their way to you for $200.” I told her that I didn't have $200. My friend then came back to me saying, “Borrow it. You can't let this slip by. It's life-changing!”
The agent came back to me asking if I wanted her to cancel. I said no, not yet. During this time I had both of them telling me what a shame it would be if I could not get this, the $90,000, and how it would change my life.
I wrote back to the agent, “I have located $200 that I can borrow until tomorrow.” She replied back to me, telling me to go to Wal*Mart and send a money-gram to Jolynn Foust, Spokane, Washington 99201. She told me that there would be a confirmation number on my receipt and to get back to her so that I could give it to her, and then my money would be on its way. I went to the bank, wrote a check, and got the money. I went to Wal*Mart and sent the money-gram.
About an hour later my friend asked if I had gotten the money yet. I told her that it had only been an hour since I sent the money-gram. The agent then came back on saying there was a problem. She said that Wal*Mart had put a hold on the money. I was to go back there and get a refund and send it Western Union.
Well, by now, all the red flags are going on, and I said to the agent, “Well, now I'm sure this is a scam!” She told me to “trust” her and be patient; they were only trying to help me. I wrote back to my friend to tell her what happened and she told me that this was not a scam and that the agent was a nice lady and that she will help me; just hang on. The agent kept writing me and telling me to go back to Wal*Mart and get a refund, and send the money Western Union. I assured her that I was not sending anymore money and that I knew this was a scam. She said, “No, we will all laugh about this tomorrow. I am coming with a delivery truck to meet you.”
Well, I had a doctor's appointment that evening, but I didn't go because I knew my blood pressure was sky-high and that he would surely send me to the hospital. The next morning, first thing, the agent wrote me saying, “Please go get a refund and send it again.” I told her no; that I was going to report her to the sheriff and also get a lawyer. She begged me to please be patient. Well, I took a deep breath and decided to go to Wal*Mart and TRY to get a refund.
When I got to the counter at Wal*Mart, I got out my receipt and said, “I know you are going to think I am crazy but this lady said you are holding this money.” She put the number on my receipt into the computer and called a man, I assumed was the manager, over to her. He looked at the screen and said to me, “You are one lucky lady. This money gram has a hold on it because it is a scam. My reply was, “Am I going to get the $200 back.” And he said, “Yes ma'am, and the $11.50 charge to send it.”I was shaking so badly I could not sign the receipt. I just kept saying thank you Lord, over and over again. I took the money straight to the bank. All I could think of was my Daddy telling me all my life, “You don't get anything for nothing.” This was my one and only encounter with a scam. Thank you God for giving me my money back.
The agent continued to beg me to Western Union the money and I told her that I would see her in court. I know now that my friend's FB account was hacked by these folks and that it was not my friend that I had been communicating with. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably isn't.
I am so thankful that I did not call my family. They would have had a heart attack! I had come close to it! Thank you Lord for looking out for me again!
“The friend that I mentioned in this article is Rosemary Thurman Thompson. She grew up in Monticello and graduated from Jefferson County High School. She has a brother still living in Monticello. I finally was able to contact her. She lives in the Ft. Myers area now. She lost all phone lines and computer access due to Hurricane Irma. She was shocked to find out that someone had her information and was using it to scam her friends. She is also worried that more of her friends may be in danger of the same thing. It was the sheriff that told me to be sure to contact her about this incident.”