A common phone scheme targeted an Oakdale mother of two and she paid the price. Now, she's out hundreds of dollars, but came to Channel 11 to spread the word. Channel 11's Katherine Amenta sat down with her to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else.
"Now we're just broke," said Lori Billing. "Like, my heart sunk."
Billing is distraught over losing $800 in a phone scheme.
"That was my husband's paycheck," said Billing.
She told us it all started with a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Grant and Treasury Department. They promised her an $8,400 federal grant, to be used on anything. But, first, they needed something.
"We need $215 and I was like OK," Billing explained. "If I can turn $215 into $8,400, that's perfect."
Billing then received another call, this time asking her to wire $500 for processing fees. And, again, she paid it.
"They sounded really legit. They did," said Billing.
But, when she got a third call asking for money, she knew she'd been had.
"They wanted $875 at that point, I figured I got scammed."
We took Billing's case to the Better Business Bureau and found out there is a small window of opportunity to fight back.
"If it's caught in enough time, you can request a wire reversal for the transfer," said Caitlin Vancas, public relations director of the Better Business Bureau, "But, it's very slim that you'll be able to do that."
Billing called the phone numbers back, but got sent straight to voicemail. She never got her money.
"Nothing's for free. I knew that before," said Billing. "But, I just wanted to take the chance."
The Better Business Bureau also said a lot of the schemes involve "caller ID spoofing". That's where it looks like the call is coming from the Washington, DC 202 area code, but it's not. Your best bet is to hang up, do some research and call the listed contact number.