College student loses $400 to scammer

OKEECHOBEE — A 19-year-old Okeechobee woman, trying to find ways to pay for a college education, learned a hard lesson last week when she fell prey to a con man and lost $400.

Deputy Nathaniel Mitchell, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), stated in his report that when the young woman received a call from “the government” she apparently thought she had found a way to get money for college.

“I am trying to pay for college and I thought it was about a student loan,” the woman reportedly told the deputy.

She went on to explain that a man named Frank Martin gave her directions on how to get some money. All she had to do was get an I-tunes card for $400 and wire it to him at 202-800-5635.

“I thought it was legit,” she reportedly told Deputy Mitchell, “but when I checked my bank no money was there and the account had been closed.”

She then called the phone number given her and was told to wire them another $400 because it was her fault the money was not deposited.

“I told them I was going to report it to the police and he said ‘I’m with the government, they can’t do anything to me’,” she said to the deputy.

She later received a phone call from a man using the name of Richard Johnson, who apparently told her she needed to send them more money.

But instead of sending them any more money, she contacted the sheriff’s office.

After hearing her story, Deputy Mitchell explained to her she had just learned a very valuable lesson.

“I told her if someone requests a payment amount to receive a larger amount, it is more than likely a fraud,” stated the deputy.

Deputy Mitchell went on to point out he also told her it was a good thing her bank account had been closed because the scammers would “… have drained all the money from it.”

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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