MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Scammers are finding new ways to take your hard-earned money this holiday season, going as far as creating fake Facebook accounts to trick you into thinking you’re talking to someone you know.
One Memphis mom says it happened to her, and it cost her nearly $500.
"'Have you heard?' I said, 'Heard what?' 'Have you heard the news?'"
That news,Talisha Caldwell tells WREG, came in the form of Facebook messages from two people she thought she knew, telling her about a federal grant for tens of thousands of dollars.
"'Is this really you?'" she asked the person posing as her friend. "And they text back like, 'Yes, girl,'" she said.
All she had to do was make a phone call, give out some personal information to make sure she qualified and send a money order for $460.
In return, she was told she would get a $30,000 grant that never had to be repaid.
"I was like, 'Wow! For real?'" Caldwell said.
So believing it had already worked for two friends, Caldwell sent the money.
"They were like, ‘Hold on, we’re going to confirm your payment,'" she said. "'The FedEx driver delivering the grant will be at your doorstep in the next 24 hours.'"
But her money never came.
"I text him and say, 'OK, what happened? What’s going on? Why haven’t I received any money or nothing?'" she said. "They text back and say the FedEx driver was in a car accident. Now they want me to send more money."
That’s when she says she knew she had been scammed.
And when she went back to those Facebook messages she thought were from her friends, the profiles and all of their messages had been deleted.
"Everything that they said to me, gone," she said.
Now, this single mom of four is wondering how she’s going to put presents under the tree Christmas morning.
"I feel real dumb after this all played out... Just a lesson learned for me," she said.
And she wants to send the message to others to be careful who you trust on social media.
"They made me believe that it was real, that I was actually talking to somebody I trust and it was going to work," she said. "Other than that, you know I would have never done that."
Caldwell says she reached out to the Better Business Bureau and was told there’s nothing they can do since she willingly sent the scammer money.
The BBB also warns the government will never ask you for money in return for a grant or tax refund.