RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We have covered so many of these scam stories that it was kind of ironic for Jennifer Warnick, NBC12's Diva of Discounts, when she realized she was being preyed on by a scammer. She recognized it right away and worked to turn the tables on the scammer and give you a firsthand warning. "I just want people to pay attention to the obvious signs," Warnick said.
Warnick's scammer ordeal began in February after she'd placed an ad on Craigslist to sell furniture. She was contacted by an interested buyer who went by the name Carl Moore. "He said he wanted to meet at the Safeway or the Target, and I grew up here. We used to have Safeway 30 years ago but not today," Warnick said. That immediately sent up a red flag.
Then he sent her an email saying he was unable to meet her as originally discussed by phone but that he'd send a check for the furniture. "I asked for $600. That check was $2,400 plus. That is a huge red flag," Warnick said.
He emailed instructions telling her to take the cost of the furniture out of that amount plus $50 for runaround expenses and then use a Moneygram to send the rest to movers in Stuarts Draft, VA who would make arrangements to pick up the furniture. We did some digging, and the bank told us the check was not drawn on a valid account. "So of course I go and look up the address, and the address does not exist at all on a map," Warnick said.
Postal inspector Michael Romano said these scams are rampant. His agency is heavily involved because the phony payments are often sent through the mail. "What we have found is the folks receiving the payments where the cash is going around the country, they're involved in another scam," Romano said.
The scammer emailed and texted with Warnick over the course of about two weeks, all the while becoming more anxious after he thought the check had been deposited. During that time, NBC12 tried calling him several times, but he didn't pick up. Meanwhile, his emails took on a threatening tone. "It's all about fear and intimidation and these folks will get very aggressive," Romano said.
Finally, we got him on the phone, but he quickly hung up when we told him we realized the check was drawn from an invalid account.
Warnick has not heard from Carl Moore again, but she hopes this underscores to people how scammers don't discriminate and how they'll go after your money even if you're corresponding using television station email, phone, and physical address. "Know what to look for so they don't get taken," Warnick said.
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