Beverly Meckley and Jennifer Shockley have been friends forever, both living much of their lives in the Mt. Healthy area, north of Cincinnati.
So when Meckley sent Shockley a Facebook message saying she just received a government grant, her friend naturally wanted to learn more.
"She told me she got $50,000," Shockley said. "And she said check into it because there's a possibility I could get it, too."
Shockley, coping with health and money issues, thought this could be the answer to her problems. So she contacted the "grant agent" via Facebook message, and learned she too indeed qualified for thousands of dollars in government grant money.
"They just required an upfront fee of $700" she said.
Scammers prey on your trust of friend
Shockley was a little concerned, but since her longtime friend who she trusted dearly said it was OK, she agreed to send the fee.
Unfortunately, in doing so became the latest victim of what's known as the Facebook grant scam.
Shockely went to the store to send the agent money, but couldn't figure out how to do so through gift cards, so she went to her bank instead.
That temporary confusion may have saved her, because in so many cases the scam victim sends gift cards, and the money is lost forever. But in this case Schockly went to her bank and sent the money through Western Union, so at least there was a paper trail that the bank could trace.
Good thing: when Shockley heard nothing back a few days later, she got suspicious.
"I then ran into Bev Friday night at our Eagles club," Shockley said "and I asked her about the messages."
"She was telling me that she got a $50,000 grant from this certain place, and she said 'that wasn't me!' But I said I have a picture of you. "
How the scam works
It turns out Meckley's Facebook page had been hacked, possibly through clicking a phishing email. which is how it often happens.
"No, none of them came from me, not a one," Meckley said.
A scammer was using her image and name, to push a grant scam onto all her longtime friends. She is now trying to contact each and let them know someone has been impersonating her.
Luckily since Schockley wired the money from her bank, it has agreed to help her try to recover the $700 she sent.
Even better news: The two women are still good friends.
But this is how so many people fall for the Facebook grant scam: they trust a friend who turns out not to really be their friend. So be careful so you don't waste your money.
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