Online scams: Gee, was it something I said?


It began innocently enough as all scams tend to do.

I noted a Facebook message from a friend on the messenger app. We hadn’t spoken in quite some time, as our inner circle came from my previous employment nearly a year ago. She asked how I was doing, seems legit, right?

My reply came about a week late. I’m terrible with Facebook messages, so I apologized for the length of the absence, responding that I was doing well and hoped she was, too.

The reply was immediate, which should have made me suspicious, but I wasn’t because the friend’s profile pic and the name were quite clear on the screen.

Here is the reply, which did set me to wonder, given the errors. Errors I’m leaving as is, and hopefully, spellcheck won’t ruin the effect.

Glad to Hear from you, I’m doing pretty good, enjoying the moment of life. Have you heard the good news about (BFAG) ?

Now, since I hadn’t spoken to this friend for some time, I thought perhaps my memory was faulty. What was BFAG? (I also wondered about the parenthesis, but who am I to judge?) Is BFAG a new program or group we organized right before my departure? I wasn’t sure, and giving the benefit of the doubt on the grammar, answered she would have to remind me of BFAG.

Then the response that told me this was not my friend, from the enormous reply that returned far too quickly to be anything but copy and paste, to the continued grammatical errors. I gnashed my teeth together in anger.

Again the response with (hopefully) the errors still intact.

It is a bonus from Benefits and financial Assistance from the Government trust fund, have you heard from them ? They are having a promotional Program to help Retired, Workers, Youth, Old and Disable with cash in the society and i saw your name too on their list when i received my money So I thought you have also received your own from them?

Oh, boy.

I did a quick Google search for BFAG Facebook scams, and sadly there is plenty of information out there, including individuals who now have a lighter bank account because of it.

There was nothing that put more fear and anger into my existence than working with vulnerable individuals in the community as a YWCA program director for four years. I would hear the stories about emails asking for money, phone calls asking for money, you name it; it was always a request for money from vulnerable individuals.

However, the hard truth and frightening fact — any of us could fall victim to a scam. We don’t have to be a particular age. It doesn’t have to be online. It could be someone who shows up at the front door with a good sob story or a piece of mail, a phone call. They can arrive when we are the most vulnerable, from lonely to down on our luck.

Further complicating the issue is the shame surrounding an admittance to being conned. While reading the interviews on the BFAG scam and many others like it, there is always a missing emphasis that we must appreciate the victim’s bravery to come forward. Our society has a massive problem of blaming the victim without empathizing with the fact of how easily we can be next.

No one wants to look foolish, but without the knowledge of how others have been scammed, how would we ever know what to protect ourselves — and our loved ones — from and how?

After a few minutes of clicking on the profile picture and getting nothing, no information whatsoever about whom this person was, I sent a quick message. I couldn’t resist.

Hey, now that I’m a reporter, maybe we could collab [sic] with the local authorities on this opportunity.

Minutes passed, then hours, followed by days with no response. I made the “real” friend aware of what transpired but I guess my new “friend” and yours truly won’t be collaborating on this swanky BFAG opportunity, after all.

Gee, was it something I said?

By Bethany J. Royer-DeLong

Pushing Ink

Bethany J. Royer-DeLong is a reporter for the Daily Advocate and Early Bird and a life-long resident of Darke County. She holds a bachelor’s degree in work psychology and a master’s degree in organizational leadership because she’s a sucker for all things jobs. You may reach her at [email protected].

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