A scam and a les­son

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

I con­sider my­self an in­tel­li­gent wo­man, hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced quite a few events in my life that re­sulted in in­stant ma­tu­rity and in­ner strength. Re­gard­less of this fact, I re­cently al­most lost $1,000 in a scam.

Be­cause my con­tract at B98.5 is com­ing up in a cou­ple months – even though my ab­sence from the ra­dio gives the per­cep­tion oth­er­wise – and I’m open to var­i­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties to make ex­tra money, I ad­mit I was in a vul­ner­a­ble place to be scammed. It started when I saw a mes­sage from a fel­low me­dia per­son­al­ity on LinkedIn of a way she had made some cash on the side. As­sum­ing it was a le­git­i­mate mes­sage, I clicked on the link and signed up to try it out.

It seemed like a se­cret shop­per job, and hav­ing never done that be­fore, I fol­lowed their lead. I re­ceived a text check­ing on a FedEx pack­age that was sent to my home, which in­cluded a check for over $2,000 and in­struc­tions on pur­chas­ing two iPhones from a lo­cal store and doc­u­ment­ing my ex­pe­ri­ence. I was told to de­posit the check so it was in my ac­count be­fore I at­tempted the pur­chase the fol­low­ing day. I then re­al­ized my sched­ule would not al­low a visit to the Ap­ple store when sug­gested and let them know as much.

That is when the pres­sure be­gan and I started to feel less cu­ri­ous and more ir­ri­tated by my new ven­ture. The texts asked if I could try and get this pur­chase done sooner rather than later, to the point I let them know I was not com­fort­able by the time­line and how I could get their money back to them. They sug­gested MoneyGram in­stead of my per­sonal check of­fer so that they could let some­one else re­ceive the funds and com­plete the pur­chase in a short pe­riod of time. I agreed and set up a MoneyGram ac­count and at­tempted to trans­fer $900 of the full amount, which my rep­re­sen­ta­tive said was the min­i­mum MoneyGram would al­low at once.

MoneyGram reached out to me to talk about this trans­fer and how I knew the peo­ple I was send­ing the money to. That’s when I knew some­thing was off, and it was fur­ther con­firmed when MoneyGram de­clined to send the money.

That’s when I con­tacted my bank, still as­sum­ing the check had cleared and in­quired how to get the money back to them. That’s when my bank rep said the check was posted be­cause of my good stand­ing but that a check re­ally needs a week to clear the bank. I re­al­ized through this con­ver­sa­tion that the rea­son for their im­me­di­ate need for the money was so I would send them funds be­fore their check was proven fraud­u­lent. Sure enough, my bank re­jected the check a day or so later and I filed a com­plaint with the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion against the fraud­u­lent com­pany.

Hav­ing been duped and be­come a will­ing par­tic­i­pant in that fraud is em­bar­rass­ing. But, ad­mit­tedly be­ing a multi-tasker and dis­tracted as I en­tered into what I thought would be a mind­less ven­ture pro­vid­ing a lit­tle ex­tra spend­ing money, I put my­self in the po­si­tion of vul­ner­a­bil­ity. I hope this stu­pid­ity will serve as a warn­ing to oth­ers to be smart and cen­tered, even when they talk them­selves into the need to pad their pock­ets. Be­ing off cen­ter and un­fo­cused will cer­tainly put a tar­get on your back … and wal­let.

Melissa Carter is rec­og­nized as one of the first out ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties in At­lanta and has been heard over the years on B98.5 and Q100. In ad­di­tion, she is a writer for the Huff­in­g­ton Post. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @Melis­saCarter.

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