WAHOO, Neb. (WOWT) - The offer of money to jump-start a business looked too good to be true, but a Wahoo woman thought she could trust the recommendation of a family friend sending messages on Facebook. A "friend" on Facebook may not be the same person you know.
Though retired, Kathy believed she fulfilled the dream of starting an at-home business selling diet products. "It will be a wonderful business once I get going with it." But she would have to find customers and money.
Kathy though a good way to stir up business is go on Facebook where she has about 50 friends. One replied, saying she knew where money is available for a good business startup.
Her Facebook friend introduced her to the director of the Empowerment Program, who sent Kathy a certificate promising she would get $150,000 in government compensation. "It was going to jump-start my business and I would be able to buy a lot of products," said Kathy.
But to ensure the cash award, Kathy had to send money grams totaling $11,000 to an Empowerment contact in North Carolina. Kathy's husband Bill became suspicious. "I told her from the beginning when I saw that certificate, it's a scam, don't fall for it."
"I just fell for it, hook, line and sinker," said Kathy.
A message from a longtime friend said that she got the money and "I swear, this is not a scam." That Facebook page is Donna's, but the convincing words belong to a scam artist. "They thought that it was me because he hacked my account and he was communicating with them as me," said Donna. "He got her to pay all kinds of money."
Donna said that when several friends asked why she requested they friend her again, she realized her Facebook page had been hijacked. "It makes you uncomfortable when someone jumps in there and takes your name and your face."
Kathy had far more taken, $11,000 from her retirement fund. "I'm just sick over it because it was my dad's inheritance and I will never get it back." Kathy won't let a scam artist steal her dream, but her financial ability to buy and sell diet products has been shaken.
We're not using the last names of the Facebook hacking victims so they're not targeted by other scam artists.
The con man contacted the victim again, seeking another $10,000 to ensure delivery of the winning grant. This time he left a phone number, but our calls haven't been returned.