PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — What began as a friend request on social media has turned into a possible fraud scheme.
The son of a victim of social media fraud, David Archer, reached out to Target 12 hoping to stop others from losing their money.
“There’s no way I’m going to get the money back, but if I can put a stop to it somehow, some way, that’s what I’m going to do,” Archer said.
Archer said sometime in June or July, his sister received a phone call from the bank saying their 78-year-old mother had taken out a large amount of cash.
“It’s got to be over five thousand right now, but I can only show proof of 1,200 or maybe 1,300,” he told Target 12.
Archer explained that his mother accepted a friend request from someone she didn’t know on social media. He said it’s unclear who this person is or where he’s located.
“He was just saying that he was trying get out of Syria to go somewhere else and he’s a doctor,” he explained.
The messages went from social media to email, Archer said, then led to non-stop phone calls.
“We even went and brought in the police,” he said. “A police lady talked to him and told him to stop calling here.”
He said police told him there was not much they could do other than write a report.
Archer said his mother was told to purchase a gift card, then photocopy the receipt and the back of the cards. After that, she was told to send those pictures in a message.
“There’s another email saying what to do,” he said. “To go to the post office, do not tell the post man what you’re doing.”
According to Archer, his mom was supposed to be sending the person money.
In an email to Target 12, AARP Rhode Island said: “Americans are constantly victimized by social media scammers who ask for fund transfers.”
When it comes to social media, AARP has a list of tips you can use to protect yourself:
- Do not click on unsolicited links and report suspicious requests.
- Do not pay for anything with gift cards.
- Do not engage with any government agency or bank through social media.
- Avoid people or accounts directing you to a page to claim a prize.
- When talking to a new social media friend, call the friend offline to make sure you’re communicating with your actual friend.
- Do not “friend” strangers.
Archer said that he had to change his mother’s phone number and social media accounts to protect her.