KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV)
Scammers stole a billion dollars from Americans last year.
There were $300 million swiped through phone-based scams, but online fraud and email frauds are lucrative too, which racked up more than $100 million apiece.
Scammers love to target senior citizens, because they believe seniors are trusting and have nest eggs. But, some are catching on, and Walli Muhammad is proof. He was looking for a part-time job but realized it was a scam instead.
Muhammad is retired. He was emailed about possibly being a secret shopper. he filled out an application and was approved in minutes.
“I thought it was wonderful! Kmart, Walmart, different stores and shop with money they provide and then send a report … thought it was excellent,” he said.
And then he got his first assignment to evaluate two money transfer outlets in his area. He was sent a check for $2,900. He was instructed to send money orders of $980 to two different people and then keep about $400 for himself.
“Why am I sending money to two different people in two different states? This doesn’t make sense,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad was reminded to not disclose his identity as a mystery shopper to anyone because they need his confidentiality and secrecy in performing the task.
He says he was reminded of other KCTV5 News investigations where we revealed how these online scams work. In that report, the victim became a money mule and moved cash around thinking they were in love. Obviously, this scam offers no romance, but it still bleeds unsuspecting people dry.
“I would have been homeless trying to pay back the funds they had stolen from me,” he said.
KCTV5 called Community America directly. They confirmed the check number Muhammad was given doesn’t exist but admitted the fake looks so good it could fool a person and even another bank — meaning anyone could deposit it and then realize days later there really is no money.
KCTV5 traced the package. The person doesn’t exist in public records. The address takes us to a real estate company. The company, Secret Insight, Inc. doesn’t exist either. Everything was made up. The people and addresses for those money orders are fake too. The only thing real about this scam would be the money a person could lose.
“For a senior on Social Security, this would be unbearable,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad reported the scam to the Kansas Attorney General.
While seniors are big targets for scammers, the truth is they aren’t the one who lost the most. Believe it or not, it’s the Millenials who are apparently more inclined to share personal information online like their mother’s maiden name.
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