SPOKANE, Wash. - Do you really know who you're messaging on Facebook? A Spokane Valley woman thought she did but instead found herself the target of a scam.
A person claiming to be with the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board said her family would be getting more than half a million dollars cash in federal grants. The woman even got a message from a longtime friend claiming everything, including the cash, was real.
Judy, who didn't want us using her last name, had a friend reach out on Facebook messenger Monday. It didn't take long for things to get weird.
"She goes 'you've got to get to this guy,' and she shows me the picture of the cash," said Judy.
The picture was a stack of paper bills supposedly showing $150,000, which her friend said came from a government grant. She connected Judy with the agent she worked with over Facebook. Judy was skeptical but curious.
"I want to hear what this is all about. So I said okay, I'm going to dig into this."
Judy messaged the so-called agent. She even gave him her full name, address, age, income and phone number. The scammer said her family qualified for a $550,000 grant, and her Facebook friend said she already received her cash, she had the photo to prove it after all. However, like every scam, there was something Judy had to do first.
"He said 'Ma'am the rules from the board of directors, we all use Google Play cards for the verification of our beneficiary.' Yeah, okay then," said Judy. "Finally I got tired of him and I didn't want to play his game anymore."
Turns out this scam is nothing new. The better business bureau says it's received more than 500 reports of this same Facebook scam in the last three years; with losses totaling more than $360,000.
The BBB says, what makes it so compelling at first is that scammers use your own friends to lure you in. Judy's last message with her 'actual' friend was in February. The scammer likely stole her profile picture, and created a clone account.
"This is the way people are today, you really have to be on top of it," said Judy.
The BBB says you should always trust your gut and if you do get an unusual message from a friend involving money, contact them offline.
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