Live 5 Scambusters: Phony Facebook friend lures Lowcountry woman into fake grant scam

VIDEO: Live 5 Scambusters: Phony Facebook friend lures Lowcountry woman into fake grant scam

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Ignoring phone calls and messages from someone you don't know is a great way to avoid scams, but you could also fall victim thanks to someone you think is a friend.

A Lowcountry woman who asked to be called “Joy” thought an old friend was trying to help her out. She received a message through Facebook from a woman she used to work with. The old friend asked Joy if she knew about the federal grant program going around.

The friend told Joy she’d received $100,000 in grant money. All Joy had to do was contact a man named Shaun Miller and explain her situation. Joy’s friend provided a link to connect her to Miller.

“They’re using people you know on Facebook because it’s like, why would you friend scam you,”

“He asked me about where I lived at and about how much I make a month,” Joy said.

The scam artist, acting as Shaun Miller, told Joy she qualified and explained the process. He told Joy she needed to buy Steam game cards to pay taxes and fees on the grant money. Joy felt uneasy and went back to her friend on Facebook.

“She’s like ‘No, I would not scam you,’” Joy said.

The friend even sent a picture of the cash she received from Miller. Joy gave in and bought $650 worth of Steam cards at Walmart and CVS. Following Miller’s instructions, she scratched off the back and sent him pictures of the numbers for each card. Miller assured her the $100,000 would be at her house by noon the next day.

“So 12:00 came, 12:15 came, 12:30, no money,” Joy said.

She received another message from Miller and he explained why the money was delayed. He claimed her cash was being held up at the California border and Joy would need to pay another $1,000 to get the money released.

“It’s just a vicious circle,” Joy said. “I guess they just figured they had me on a wheel and they were just spinning it.”

If you come across a scam like this, you can report it to the FBI at ic3.gov and the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at Scams@live5news.com.

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