Woman loses over $3,000 in Facebook scam

OKEECHOBEE — A local woman lost over $3,000 in a worker’s compensation scam after she was urged to jump on their offer by someone she thought was a Facebook friend.

The 68-year-old victim reportedly told Deputy Jessica Francis, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), she was first contacted by Facebook messenger around Dec. 10. The man claimed to be a representative from a worker’s compensation appeals board and he had a settlement for her of $40,000.

According to the deputy’s report the victim thought this was a scam so she ignored the message.

However, the woman apparently got to thinking about an injury she received in 2000 and thought the settlement offer may have to do with that incident.

She began conversing with the purported representative and was told all she had to do to get her money was to send him $700.

Next, the victim heard from a friend on the messenger site. That friend told the victim she, too, had been contacted by worker’s comp people and to do what they said.

The friend went on to tell the woman that’s what she did and “… she received all kinds of money owed to her.”

After hearing from her friend, noted the deputy’s report, the victim went to Walmart and sent $700 to Yvonne Pries in Amarillo, Texas.

In about three days the victim was again contacted by the appeals board rep who told her he was ready to deliver the money to her, but she needed to pay $3,000 in taxes first.

“(She) again thought this was a scam, but he reassured her it wasn’t,” noted Deputy Francis.

So, the victim returned to Walmart and sent the man $3,000.

On Dec. 27 the man again contacted the victim. This time, he told her the courier had been stopped by the border patrol and her money had been seized. Now, they needed $5,000 to release her funds.

“This is when (she) finally called law enforcement,” stated the deputy’s report. “She also made a phone call to her friend who had sent the messages on Facebook, but (the friend) had no knowledge of any messages or of a worker’s compensation board.”

After taking the victim’s complaint she and the deputy went on the Facebook messenger site to view the conversations between the victim and the worker’s compensation representative and her friend.

“The profile that sent the messages to (the victim), using the name of (her friend), had been deleted,” noted the deputy.

Deputy Francis also noted the area code from which the alleged representative was calling was actually a Montana area code, not Texas.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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