Cornwall woman loses $1,400 in Internet scam

Ryan Ross
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Bobbi-Lynn MacDonald hired online to clean house and given fake money order to pay movers

Tayah-Lynn MacDonald, left, sits with her mom, Bobbi-Lynn MacDonald, who was the victim of an Internet scam that cost her $1,400.

All Bobbi-Lynn MacDonald wanted to do was earn a little extra money for Christmas with her 12-year-old daughter.

Instead, she was taken in by a scam that left her owing $1,400, shook her trust in people and left her wishing she could go back in time to fix her mistake.

“It’s a life lesson learned, that’s for sure,” she said.

It started in November when MacDonald, who is a single mom from Cornwall, placed an ad online offering cleaning services as a way to make some extra money.

She got a response from someone who planned to move to P.E.I. with his family after his father died. The family was going to live in his father’s home and it needed a thorough cleaning to get it ready for the movers.

After the movers were finished, MacDonald was to go in for a second cleaning to get it ready for the family and if the man liked her work he planned to hire her as a regular cleaner.

None of it was true.

MacDonald said nothing seemed out of the ordinary at that point because she spoke with the man on the phone several times and he had a detailed story about his father dying and his family’s plans.

“Even though it’s been a while now I’m still in shock that it’s not real.”

Before she did any work, the man sent her $400 to secure her services and another $1,000 to pay the movers who would give her the key to the home.

The man sent a money order for payment, which MacDonald said she thought would have been legitimate.

The bank teller who cashed the money order for her thought it was legit too so MacDonald deposited the cash in her bank account and transferred $1,000 to the movers.

MacDonald spent her portion of the money and said she thought everything was OK until she got a call from the bank less than a week later saying the money order was fraudulent.

“It was like an instant slap in the face.”

Since then she hasn’t been able to contact the man she thought was hiring her, the police weren’t able to do much to help find him because of the nature of the scam and MacDonald had to repay $1,400 to her bank.

MacDonald said the whole situation was enough to make her think twice before trusting someone again.

“You really feel betrayed.”

All but a few hundred dollars has been repaid, thanks in part to help from strangers who heard about MacDonald’s story.

MacDonald said she wants people to be aware of who they are talking to and do more research if they’re faced with something similar.

“Maybe that was my mistake.”

 

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

Geographic location: Cornwall, P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • never trust
    January 09, 2014 - 12:52

    never, ever trust anyone who offers to pay for something with a money order in which you must cash and give a portion back to them or anyone.....its always a scam. If they do, inform the RCMP

  • Mary Adams
    January 09, 2014 - 07:22

    Making comments about how she should of known better or I knew it was wrong soon as I saw it. The thing is being scammed not only takes the money but takes a bit of your self esteem words like Oh no, I never dreamed that would happen to me,or why did I trust them run through your head constantly, you beat yourself up so much that you certainly don't need people telling you how dumb you were, I would of never done that. I hope none of you ever get scammed because believe me you punish yourself enough I know. Sorry this has happened to you what goes around comes around they will get theirs .

  • Just to clarify
    January 09, 2014 - 00:58

    Just to clarify..... It's hard to explain in these interviews how real this situation was. I know people are skeptical. I know people are saying I should have known. Honestly....if I thought that this could have been a scam I never would have followed through. Talking to this man several times on the phone ( the conversations were not just quick ones...they were detailed, making plans, talking about his father and family, about their move here..etc) sending numerous emails and text messages....made it all see soo real. To me...a money order seemed like a safe bet....considering that you need to have money in order to get one to send to someone. Basically like wiring money to someone. Obviously I've learned my lesson on that one. Yes...I created a profile on a crowd funding website....i had been trying to figure out a way to clear this up. I came across this online and thought why not try it..it can't hurt to try. People had profiles up looking for help for all kinds of reasons. I was surprised and grateful for the donations I received. I have actually met some very nice people and have kept in contact with some on a regular basis. I have also heard from people who have gone through similar situations and they have shared their stories with me on how they to had to scramble to recover from their losses. After posting my profile...I was contacted by the media. They wanted to interview me. Again...I didn't think it would hurt if I shared my story. Maybe I would be able to stop it from happening to someone else. So yes...I made a mistake. I have learned my lesson. Never thought in a million years that it was a scam. Sorry if some people are offended by me posting a crowd funding profile. I didn't think I would get that kind of reaction. I never said I was any type of charity, I was upfront and honest to why I was posting my profile. I wasn't 'begging' for money. Those sites are there for those who want and like to help out others in need. And like I said already...I agreed to do these interviews thinking if I shared my story it would maybe stop it from happening to someone else. I didn't do them so I could get picked apart. I made a mistake. I am human. I also have feelings that can be hurt. People need to realize that your comments hurt. Maybe in situations like these...its better to keep hurtful comments to yourself. I would though like to thank all of those who have helped me...whether it was donations you sent or the kind messages and well wishes. Also to those who have shared your stories.

    • Captain Canuck
      January 09, 2014 - 13:35

      To Just to Clarify: I understand that is looks like it's on the up-and-up at first, but you now have learned the hard way (and really, it should have been as obvious as a kick in the shin) that it was a scam when he asked YOU to pay the movers. I had the same scam attempt on me. I just called his mother into question and hung up.

    • really Captain?
      January 09, 2014 - 18:46

      Seriously Captain? After she tried to explain the situation further and why she agreed to do the interviews and admitted that she was wrong and made a mistake you are still going to 'kick her in the shin' when she is down? Wow...give her a break already! Mary Adams is probably right....I am sure over the last month she has done enough of that already. What happened to the old saying "if you can't say anything nice, dont say anything at all"? I for one, am sorry this happened to you. I hope you don't beat yourself up too much this. And don't take these negative comments to heart. It was an honest mistake. I am glad you shared your story. God bless.

    • Bob MacDonald
      January 09, 2014 - 21:23

      You should be commended for telling your story. It is silence that allows evil people to take advantage of others. You may have just prevented this from happening to someone else. I know it's hard but you should just ignore the people talking trash. They are the ones that look bad not you. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Captain
      January 10, 2014 - 09:45

      to Really Captain? I'm not being mean, it's just harsh. I really feel bad for her and she is doing a good service to others by being public about it. She will wake up some people who should aslo have known better. Better late than never.

  • Dani
    January 08, 2014 - 21:30

    Wow! Have we not all made mistakes at one point of our lives or another ? Why is everyone judging her so harshly? Put yourself in her position and then picture reading these comments. I'm really ashamed.

  • Say What?
    January 08, 2014 - 20:56

    Jeepers folks!! Have you never made an unfortunate choice in your entire life? A well-intentioned person trying to make a nice Christmas for her daughter got taken in by people who spend all their time exploiting vulnerable people. Why are you taking your anger out on her, instead of the people who scammed her? Talk about Scrooges!! I am so glad that the caring Islanders I appreciate so much (unlike those below) were willing to help her out of a tight spot. As for those of you who are feeling so superior and judgemental, I sincerely hope you never find yourself in a difficult situation, because you should know that you reap what you sow.

  • Cornwall girl
    January 08, 2014 - 19:53

    As I understand this story she is only out a 1000.00 she spent the other 400. 00 before she did anything . What if this was true and they changed their minds she would still owe them the 400.00. She made a stupid mistake, if she had made a mistake doing something in her house and broke something would she expect everyone else to pay for it. She went online and set up an account looking for people to send their hard earn money to get her out of this mess. If she was just looking to inform people why open a poor me account .

  • Justin
    January 08, 2014 - 19:41

    This is just a variation of scam that has been around for years. Really would be fooled by this if you have a lick of common sense. Not to question whether this women has any common sense or not but really who does this. Takes a money order and than transfers part of it. This scam has been mentioned by police over and over and this is just a variation of it. This is simply case of well ummmmm a lack of common sense which apparently is not all that common.

  • M
    January 08, 2014 - 18:16

    I myself am a cleaner. I've had my ad posted on kijiji for almost a year now. These scammers were also in contact with me. It never felt right from the beginning. ALWAYS trust your gut instinct! I never cashed the check, they were to persistant with wanting to send it to me. They were from Paris, they sent me a check for $1400 and Im supposed to send $1000 back to Paris to help the mover???? I contacted the police and found out that it was nothing but a scam. Its a wake up call, and a hard lesson for everyone. Your not a charity, stop begging for donations. Its a shitty situation. We cant always be helping those that have been victim of theft or have had something stolen. At least(or hopefully) your smart enough to not let this happen again.

  • well said ENOUGH
    January 08, 2014 - 15:43

    enough, I agree with you. However I think that this SCAM is on the sorry feeling islanders who then fork over there money to the SOB story of a supposed single mother who did something STUPID. She raised over $440 on her website already asking people to help her... really!!

  • Suspicious
    January 08, 2014 - 13:34

    This story is very suspicious if you ask me. She should have emails, and phone numbers and an address etc. Did the police actually do any investigation into this, or did they just let it go as another scam

  • enough
    January 08, 2014 - 11:25

    I think we heard this before Christmas. I am sorry but everyone seems to be getting in the media about some sort of scam they did or did not take part in and they get a lot of attention from sorry feeling Islanders who send them money (probably more than they were supposedly scammed). There has been enough attention devoted to scams and for people to be aware. Sorry you don't cash cheques without finding out of the funds are there or take money out of your account for this. Think.

  • Wow
    January 08, 2014 - 10:50

    Why can't the Moving Company give the $1000 back or did they? Where are they in all of this? I am assuming they didn't move fake furniture into this home so they shouldn't have kept the $1000.

    • Jocelyne Lloyd, web editor
      January 08, 2014 - 11:26

      Hi, sorry if it isn't clear in the story: the whole thing -- house, movers, dying father -- was a fabrication. Whoever has the $1,000 was part of the scam.

    • Wow
      January 09, 2014 - 11:09

      OK, thank you!

  • Gene Gallant
    January 08, 2014 - 10:49

    When depositing a check or money order you should always wait for the bank to clear it before you try to use it. Just common sense....

  • Gilbert
    January 08, 2014 - 10:37

    I had something of the same nature happen to me. I had something for sale on Usedpei. I was contacted by email about sending the item over seas if they payed me the cost up front by money order. However I told them I would only do it if they did an e transfer. When the money was in my account I would carry out whatever they wanted. I never heard from them again If was a phone number from the USA. My advise check everything out and do nothing until the money is in your account Everyone has email and bank accounts and can do e transfer in this day and age it's a way of doing dealings everyday. Sorry for this lady's lost of money it's just not fair. If it passed the bank teller who deals with this everyday. How can an everyday living person ever know the difference.

  • Duh Uh
    January 08, 2014 - 10:25

    I'm sorry but this scam has been going on for quite sometime. Really think about it...if these people can send you a money order for $1400; why couldn't they send a money order to the moving company. If it smells fishy, it is fishy. Hard lesson to learn.

  • Islander
    January 08, 2014 - 10:13

    Who was the moving company this lady hired and gave her a key to home they would have to know who it was they were dealing with. This is just unreal my heart feels for this lady.

    • re read
      January 08, 2014 - 12:56

      This lady is was hired by a man on kijiji to clean.He sent her a check for 1400 and was to keep 400 for herself for the cleaning then mail the 1000 to a fake moving company.....she was able to raise money to repay the bank back by setting up an online fundraiser for herself.