She is a college-educated professional woman in her 40s and when she got the chance to collect a free grant from the U.S. government, she took it.
Only later did she learn that she was the one who got taken.
The Lenexa woman was the victim of scammers who pretend to represent the U.S. government and offer free government grants to “loyal, tax paying citizens.”
The woman, who asked that her name not be used for this article, said she was embarrassed and angry about what happened to her.
“I’m a really smart person,” she said.
She is also in debt with a large pile of medical bills, and embraced the chance to put a dent in those bills.
In order to claim the grant, she was told that she had to pay Kansas state taxes.
And to do that she was instructed to buy a certain type of gift card. She spent a day gathering those cards, about $10,000 worth she bought with a credit and debit card.
She then read the gift card numbers to the caller.
It was the next morning when the woman said she started feeling uneasy. She got online and found an article about the scam on the website of the Federal Trade Commission.
She called the FTC and was told that yes, she had been scammed.
Although the criminals involved in this scam appeared to be calling from New York or Washington, D.C., area codes, they were actually somewhere overseas.
She was told by the FTC that even with those phone numbers, there was little that could be done.
“I was so frustrated,” she said.
Luckily, one of the cards she used to purchase about $6,000 of the gift cards had fraud protection. But she ended up losing the $3,000 she put on a debit card.
The FTC told her that the scammers try to target people like her in financial straits.
“I like to think people wouldn’t do that,” she said. “But we do live in a world like that.”
Lenexa police reminded people that no legitimate government or police agency would ever ask for any kind of payment through gift cards.
The FTC reminds people to never share bank account information with anyone they don’t know.
Anyone who thinks they have been the victim of such a scam can report it to the FTC at 877-382-4357.