TULSA, Okla. — A Tulsa woman said she is just days away from homelessness after losing all of her money to scammers. It's a tragic tale of purchasing from an unauthorized seller online.
Delores Stowers is cherishing the last few days she has in her home, which by Sunday she can no longer call her own.
"I have the Lord holding my hand,” she said. “He isn't going to let it go. He already told me he ain't.”
Dealt a hard hand in life, Stowers said she's battling not only lung cancer, but now the possibility of becoming homeless. Her trailer is being repossessed, but the property it sits on still belongs to the family.
She thought she could find a quick fix by purchasing an RV on Facebook's “Buy, Sell, Trade” page.
"Well it looks legit,” she said. “I'll try it."
A leap a faith Stowers said she wishes she never took after agreeing to purchase an RV for $800 from a seller in another state, who asked she pay in the form of eBay cards.
"I went and got the cards, and we got into eBay and sent the numbers off and they said it was verified,” Stowers said.
The next day she received a text from the seller claiming she needed to pay another $800 for insurance. Again, she bought eBay cards and was told her RV would be on the way.
"The next morning, we got up and there was a text on there that said that they needed another $800 for border commission tax,” Stowers said.
The Better Business Bureau said this is a red flag. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Tax Commission said it will never solicit gift cards and it doesn't have a border commission tax.
The OTC said Oklahoma only collects taxes when the RV is titled in Oklahoma. It titles RVs as non-commercial vehicles, so the same rules apply to RVs as would apply to cars, SUVS, and other vehicles for personal use. These vehicles are only taxed when they are titled in Oklahoma and the process to do that occurs at the OTC or a tag agency.
The OTC said there is a towing permit that is required for vehicles intended to be resold, however that permit is only $3 for the towing vehicle and $3 for the vehicle being towed. It is a total of $6 and the permit is good for 30 days.
Bryce Marshall with the Tulsa BBB said consumers need to be aware of scams like these.
“If they're asking for anything gift card wise, I would definitely stay away from it because that's more than likely a scam,” he said.
The BBB said it is a common practice for schemers and getting your money back is almost impossible.
For Stowers, that means $1,600 gone and making do with what she does have.
"[I’m] going to set up a tent out back,” she said.
Unfortunately, according to the BBB of Tulsa, scams like these escalated during the pandemic and were up almost 55 percent from 2019 to 2020.
Online scams for this year are still increasing at 14 percent.
In the meantime, Stowers said she hopes the scammers enjoy her money.
"I just hope they don't do it to somebody else,” she said. “I just want people to be aware that there are people out there that will take you. "
She said she's staying firm in her faith to get through a trying time.
"The lord provides, and he provided me a tent, which is a roof over my head."
For more information on what to look out for when it comes to online scams, visit the BBB website.
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