ATLANTA — The 2 News Oklahoma Problem Solvers continue to hear from people in other states about a common scam.
"I thought wow, a government grant, that sounds great," Debbie Jackson tells us.
Those messages are truly tempting and truly trustworthy, it seems.
"It was a friend of mine, so I didn't think there was anything fishy about it," Titianna El says.
That's exactly what scammers count on, when they hack unsuspecting Facebook users, to get a list of their friends.
Both Tatianna, in Atlanta, and Debbie, in Bakersfield, got unrelated, but similar Facebook messages, supposedly from friends, telling them about great government grants.
A ray of hope, Tatianna called it, after her livelihood collapsed due to Covid.
"It was because I was trying to get a grant to restart my business."
And out west, Debbie was desperate too, living paycheck to paycheck.
But both women became suspicious when the scammers began asking for personal and financial information, and for money upfront, through pre-paid gift cards.
"But this time, I had already googled and figured out they were full of it," Debbie says.
While googling for help, both Debbie and Tatianna came across stories the 2News Oklahoma Problem Solvers did with local scam victims late last year, warning of the red flags that scream, scam.
"For someone to reach out and give you false hope only to turn around and scam you for whatever little you've got, living trying to survive, it's wrong on all levels."
That's why a cyber security expert at the University of Tulsa says it's important to secure your Facebook account, and all of your social media, not only to protect you, but your friends, too, so you don't make them targets of hackers and scammers.
"This is one of the frustrating things that can happen to your friends, without you ever knowing."
Dr. Tyler Moore recommends setting up two-step authentication to protect your account.
And always think twice before accepting friend requests.
"The other big thing you can do is to defend yourself is go into Facebook and in the privacy settings change your profile to make your friends list not be public."
As for Debbie and Tatianna, they want to warn others.
"Most people out here are hurting, people who are hurting and holding on by a thread because of [COVID]" Tatianna says.
A warning for folks on the east coast and west coast, and everyone in-between.
Contact the Problem Solvers:
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere --