‘Gullible’ man loses $16,000 in scam

OKEECHOBEE — An 80-year-old man who described himself as “gullible” thought he had found an easy way to make money. But instead, he lost $16,000.

A March 30 report by Deputy William Jolly, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), stated the Okeechobee man thought he had found an “… easy way to make money, but I had to spend some money.”

While the man was browsing online one day he found a company named Advantage Merchant Solutions. He reportedly told the deputy the company billed themselves as a business that helped people who had previously been turned down for auto, home or personal loans.

He then told Deputy Jolly: “These people are good, they used words such as Federal Trade Commission which made it sound legit.”

So, the man contacted the company and was told they could not deal directly with the people seeking loans. But if he would contract with them (the company), his contact information would be passed on to the customers and they would then go through him. In return, the elderly man would get a percentage of each accepted loan.

So, on Feb. 10, he was told to send Advantage Merchant Solutions $996. He did as directed.

The company contacted him again on Feb. 18 and reportedly told him “… everything was going as planned …” and the business process could now get started. Getting started included him sending the company another $6,000.

In return, the man would receive 425 business files.

Anxious to start making money, the man put $4,000 on one credit card and the remaining $2,000 on a second credit card.

He was then told he was eligible to receive another 475 business files for $9,500 and he was sent three purchase agreements, which he signed and returned. He also put $5,500 on a credit card and $4,000 on a second card.

“It has been a week since I have spoken with anyone and I haven’t received any proceeds from them as of yet. There is no way I will ever be able to pay this back,” he reportedly told the deputy.

Deputy Jolly indicated the man has contacted his credit card companies, but it’s not clear if those companies are able to help him.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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