'Queen of Bluegrass' questioned by FBI after scammers strike

Scammers impersonate singer online

By Jeremy Finley
Copyright 2019 CNN

Scammers impersonate bluegrass artist Rhonda Vincent to convince fans to send gift cards.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Rhonda Vincent, the singer known as the Queen of Bluegrass, now knows that the nerves of performing for videos, going on tour and waiting to see if she won a Grammy scarcely compares to being questioned by the FBI.

"It's kind of unnerving when the FBI looks you in the eye, and they always say they can tell by your actions, so I was like ‘Don't blink! Don't blink!'" Vincent laughed.

But the reason she had been called in to the Nashville FBI headquarters was no laughing matter.

One of Vincent's fans had sent her $500,000 in gift cards and the FBI wanted to know if it was true.

Turns out Rhonda Vincent had made the request, just not the real Rhonda Vincent.

"It's kind of become a crusade. Telling people, do not fall for this," Vincent said.

All of these victims have followed fake accounts that look legit. Some of them even had the verified symbol.

Vincent is among the celebrities that are being spoofed by online scammers.

Vincent said it's happening so often now that she's having to tell people at concerts to ignore anyone pretending to be her online.

Vincent said scammers copy her picture, pose as her, claim that she's getting divorced and her husband is blocking her finances in order to keep her from finishing her new album.

Vincent, who has been married for 35 years, said the scammer then asks the fan for money.

In one troubling case, a fan thought he was interacting with Vincent online and ended up sending a scammer his life's savings.

"He left his wife on Friday, came to our show on Saturday, so we could start our life together," Vincent said.

While the FBI couldn't address Vincent's case, Richard Baer, a supervising special agent said overseas scammers are trolling celebrity interactions.

Baer said simply tweeting at a celebrity or trying to communicate with them on a Facebook Live can make you a target.

"They all have a craft. They're sitting almost full-time because it's profitable to them," Baer said.

Vincent said it's left her conflicted, as she loved connecting with her fans.

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