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Scammers get victims to take convincing videos of themselves, then use the footage to con the person’s friends and family out of money too

Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 8:06 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The offer came from someone he trusted-- or so he thought.

Don Gaddis thought his high school friend was just checking in.

“He lives in a different state right now,” Gaddis said.

The two were messaging back and forth on Facebook as they often do, when his friend brought up grant money supposedly available for people to recover after the pandemic.

“Because it was a friend, I dropped my guard,” he said.

He says he was told to send a $99 fee to get $2,500.

“This guy was my friend. I don’t consider myself an idiot by any means but everybody has that one button,” Gaddis said.

Gaddis says what’s most upsetting isn’t the money that he lost, but instead the fact that he fell for the next request to make a video of himself-- video that the scammers are now likely using to scam even more people.

He says he was promised the video wouldn’t be posted until after he received his money.

“It was it was just six seconds long what my name is and that I received the amount of money that they were that they said that they were offering and that it’s not a scam,” Gaddis said.

He contested the request, but then received a video of his friend on camera saying he made the video too and then got the money.

“They were pulling out the stops. I mean they Had a very well-crafted story,” he said.

That’s not uncommon with scammers, but the specifics of this case were a first for Ericka Dilworth at the Cleveland area Better Business Bureau.

“The twist of having them video is not something I had seen,” she said.

The BBB connected us with Gaddis to tell his story for that reason.

“You just cannot trust that if someone is asking you for money, that it is who you believe it to be,” Dillworth said.

Dilworth wants everyone in Northeast Ohio to know how to protect themselves.

“The scammers have so many different ways and so many different techniques to get you to believe,” she said. “But boy, any time you are going to give money via cash app or gift card, that money is then gone and you won’t have any way to get it back.”

Once Gaddis sent the video, he says he was locked out of his social media accounts. He used to use them every day.

“I just really want access to my page, because I have a lot I have a podcast information, all my community garden pages on there, all of the photos,” he siad.

Dillworth says that’s another good reason to remember to change your account passwords often.

Gaddis did an interview with 19 Investigates, hoping to warn his friends he can’t communicate with right now and anyone else who may receive a curious message.

“It happens to the best of us. So, I didn’t want my being caught in the scam to be so embarrassing that I couldn’t warn others that it was, you know, something that could happen to them if they’re not very careful,” he said.

Gaddis says he has not talked to his actual high school friend since being scammed.

He assumes his friend is also locked out of his social accounts.

19 Investigates reached out to Facebook to see if they could help Gaddis regain access to his profile.

A representative wrote back and is working to resolve the issue.

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