Wed | Jul 28, 2021

Teacher falls victim to social media scammers

Published:Thursday | April 29, 2021 | 12:26 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter

A central Jamaica teacher was fleeced of $30,000 by crooks behind a virtual store she found via social media in her quest to buy a phone. Wendy Moore* is using her unfortunate experience to warn others of the scam that has left her embarrassed. “I...

A central Jamaica teacher was fleeced of $30,000 by crooks behind a virtual store she found via social media in her quest to buy a phone.

Wendy Moore* is using her unfortunate experience to warn others of the scam that has left her embarrassed.

“I feel so angry and feel so stupid at the same time. I am a hard-working person. I do my business online in the pandemic because I cannot go out. What this has done is make me afraid to purchase anything online from any business,” Moore told The Gleaner.

After seeing an Instagram post advertising phones and an entertainer who she follows seemingly endorsing the entity, Moore decided to engage the operators of the account.

“I saw a phone that I was interested in buying for my sister. I reached out and they were so pleasant. I got a generic message welcoming customers,” Moore said.

An iPhone 7 was the centre of the deal, and with full payment of $30,000, the device would be made available for pick-up within two days via a local courier service.

“I said the price sound reasonable because I was shopping around. I asked for a number, and they sent it. I called but did not get through. I realised it was a WhatsApp number, so I reached out, and they responded,” Moore recounted.

THINGS FALL APART

After making the deposit, things began to fall through.

“Did the deposit and they said this is my confirmation number, but I was expecting a receipt. They said they were generating a receipt ... . Up to the day of delivery, I still hadn’t received anything,” she said.

The teacher told The Gleaner that the account operators messaged her to say they were hoping that she would like the colour and that she should avoid being late for pick-up.

On the delivery day, the courier company said that nothing was on record for her.

Since then, the sellers have refused to answer her questions or take her calls. They have also blocked her on WhatsApp and Instagram.

“I even had a friend call them and pretend to be interested in doing business, and they were ready. They told her the phone she wanted was $85,000 and they had iPhone 12 selling for $135,000,” Moore told The Gleaner.

When our news team made checks, the website had been taken down.

The Gleaner tried several times to reach the online store via numbers provided but to no avail.

Moore said she visited the bank to which the money had been deposited and was advised to report the matter to the police.

She intends to do so at her earliest convenience outside of her class hours.

A senior officer at the police’s Fraud Squad told The Gleaner that they are aware of such scams and have sought to alert the public.

In a Twitter post recently, the Jamaica Constabulary Force advised the public to be careful when making online purchases via social media platforms, mainly Instagram, with sellers requesting that payment be made via a deposit or transfer to a bank account.

The Fraud Squad said that they have commenced investigations into the reports. They are asking anyone who has information that may assist with the investigations to contact the police at 876-971-3346.

*Name changed.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com