MCSO: Keys resident loses $80K+ to fake online businessman through Facebook Messenger scam

Selling stuff online? Beware of scammers

MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – A Lower Keys resident reported losing more than $80,000 to a fake online businessman who contacted her through Facebook Messenger, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

MCSO spokesperson Adam Linhardt said the elderly victim stated she was introduced to the social media site by a criminal posing as someone who worked with the health department and was told to send him money as part of a larger investment scam.

According to Linhardt, the thief began instructing the victim to withdraw cash from her bank account and ship it to different names and addresses.

Scams often involve fake businesses, fake lawyers and fake claims about money for different reasons, authorities said.

The thieves usually ask for information such as the victim’s full name, address, passport information, phone number and other personal information, as well as a small sum of money for fake administration costs.

According to investigators, deputies often receive reports of scams involving criminals posing as law enforcement officers, attorneys, utility workers, insurance adjusters, computer professionals and others who make false claims seeking money.

Linhardt said these fraudsters will often seek payment from victims using gift cards.

Authorities are urging others to always hang up and contact the family member, company, or government organization the caller or writer claims to be affiliated with.

About the Author:

Ryan Mackey is a Digital Journalist at WPLG. He was born in Long Island, New York, and has lived in Sunrise, Florida since 1994.