KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Percilla Sanders has always believed she’s too smart to fall for a scam. That was until her friend sent her a Facebook message telling her how to make some easy money.
“I went to school with her,” Sanders said. “I thought this must be legit.”
What Sanders didn’t realize was that her friend’s Facebook page had been hacked, and the person messaging from her friend’s account was a scammer.
The scammer asked Sanders to buy gift cards and then send a photo of the number on the back of the cards. Sanders bought two eBay gift cards worth a total of $300.
Sanders’ “friend” told her the cards would allow a micro finance company to be eligible for tax breaks. In return, Sanders would be rewarded with $3,600. The money was to be sent to her via Cash App, which is a legitimate company, but it’s often used by scammers.
Sanders said she could kick herself for falling victim. That’s why she wanted to warn others.
“Actually, in the KC area, we’ve seen 68 of these scams in the last couple of years,” said Stephanie Garland of the Better Business Bureau.
Garland, who said most of the scams involve people impersonating government officials, said the majority of victims are not as brave as Sanders and never come forward. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission said fewer than 10% of scam victims report the crime.
“We know that victims at times are embarrassed or nervous or shamed,” Garland said. “We don’t want them to be.”
Garland said some scammers pretend to be government workers. They call to let you know you’re supposedly in some kind of serious trouble, but they can help you avoid jail if you send them money. If you receive a call or email like that, report it to the BBB.
A lot of scams have been tracked to call centers in India. Although in Sanders’ case her scam came from Nigeria, according to an alert she received on her phone when the scammer tried to take control of her Instagram account.
The scammer also took over her Facebook page, which she’s been reporting to Facebook for more than a week. It has yet to be taken down.