MILWAUKEE — In just the last 30 days, 1.86 billion people have logged onto Facebook. With that many people using the social media site, it makes sense that scam artists are targeting users. Two local men know all too well what those scammers are trying to get — money.
Randy Macholl recently discovered that not all the people who request you as a friend on Facebook have good intentions. Randy says he recently got a friend request from a person claiming to be his high school class mate.
"I already had her as a friend, but another friend request came. I said, 'Okay, fine I'll accept it,'" Macholl recalled.
But Macholl soon discovered she didn't remember him very well.
"I'm thinking, wait a minute here, something's not right," Macholl said.
The person wanted to inform Macholl about a $90,000 grant she got from the government.
"She said, 'Would you be interested?' And I'm thinking, 'Let's see where this takes me,'" Macholl said.
Macholl was sent a link to a Facebook profile for a man named Harry Johnson who was allegedly a federal government claim agent, but a spelling error on the profile made it apparent that it wasn't legitimate.
"He says, 'Well, for $50,000 — you have to send $2,200. For $90,00 — $3,300,'" Macholl said.
The person also told Macholl that there were only two ways to pay — cash or MoneyGram and the money needed to be sent to a person in Texas.
"I'm going, 'Boy oh boy, there is something wrong here. This is really a scam,'" Macholl said.
Ricky Mounger of Milwaukee knows exactly what Macholl went through and more.
"I wish there was some kinda way to catch up with him and punish him, or prosecute him," Mounger said.
In February, Mounger had a person on Facebook convince him to send $750 to a person in El Paso.
"He said, 'Now, you have to send $2,000.' I said 'For what?' 'In order to get your $50,000.' I said, 'I am not sending $2,000,'" Mounger recalled.
Mounger's scam experience is nearly identical to Macholl's. The only differences were Mounger's fake friend pretended to be his neighbor and put him in touch with a different fake claim agent named John Ritter.
"I guess I was blind, dumb, thinking I was gonna get $50,000, but something told me in the back of my mind that this was a scam," Mounger said.
Mounger told the scammer he wasn't sending any more money. After that, the claim agents profile disappeared along with all his messages to Mounger.
The same thing happened to Macholl, but he'd already documented everything in hopes of sharing it to warn others.
"I'm just, you know, a very concerned citizen and I know there's a lot of of vulnerable people out there," Macholl said.
Here's some things to keep in mind if you think you're getting caught up in a scam on Facebook:
- Be cautious of duplicate friend requests
- You never have to pay money to get money
- Be wary of anyone that contacts out of the blue about an opportunity to get free money from the government
As for the people that were impersonated on Facebook, Macholl's high school classmate posted a status a few days later saying her account had been hacked. Mounger's neighbor was in the hospital the whole time and never went online.