I like to think I’m a good judge of character. I also like to think I can read people pretty well.
Apparently, this may not be the case.
I was meeting a friend for pictures last night, at a place I frequent in town. I had just finished unloading my kids from the car and into the stroller when a van pulled up next to me. The woman was visibly upset and started telling me what was going on. I won’t get into details but let’s just say it involved her son being injured overseas and her needing to get to Fort Rucker (2 hours away) to see him. She told me details, names, etc and just said she didn’t have enough gas and she was embarrassed to ask for help.
Without even hesitating, I gave her a pre-paid $60 gift card. She thanked me and asked if she could give me anything and I said no, it was okay. I said I would pray for them and she was off.
As soon as she pulled away, my stomach started churning. Something didn’t feel right. I told my friend what had happened and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. At first I felt uneasy to know her son was injured and she was struggling. But then I started thinking that things weren’t adding up and it just didn’t feel right.
I got home and asked around on Facebook; I wanted to find out if the unit her son was with was deployed and how I could contact her to check in and make sure he was okay. I started asking if that unit was currently deployed, called the hotel to check if she was indeed staying there, etc. Nothing was adding up.
I had heard of scams happening locally before so I asked vague questions in the local garage sale Facebook group (over 20,000 people) and then details started to unfold themselves.
Two other women had heard the same story, from the same woman. It seems as though it was the same story, different vehicles and locations, but wanting the same thing…money.
I have this small sliver of hope that this woman was telling the truth. The emotion in her voice, the maps and paperwork and everything seemed so believable. As a military spouse who’s had a scare with their soldier while he was deployed, it truly hit home. Too close to home.
My heart hurts for so many reasons. If this truly was a scam, I feel sad that she used an injury in Afghanistan to get money. I feel stupid for believing she really needed money if she didn’t. I feel sad that it happened in a place I go all the time, and now I’m hesitant to be there by myself. Of course it sucks to lose the $60 but I’m more upset that this keeps happening and she’s getting away with it.
I’m just scared to be honest, y’all. Scared that people like this really exist and that they’re right in our backyard. I want to protect my kids and myself and knowing something like this could/did happen to me just makes me question a lot and I just have the worst taste in my mouth from all of it.
This world can be a scary place; as soon as she pulled up, I started to feel uneasy. And then I thought she just needed directions. But then this story and asking for money and shit, for all I knew, my kids and I could have been abducted. So yes, $60 to send her on her way is nothing in the grand scheme of things. We’re safe, nothing happened, and she’s either on her way to see her son or spending my hard earned money somewhere else.
At the end of the day, I did what I thought was the right thing to do. I wanted to help; I have a big heart and I would have given her the shirt off my back if she needed it. My heart is heavy knowing this was most likely a scam but what can you do? What’s done is done and I’ve unfortunately learned a hard lesson. Not all people are good people.
I also filed a police report because if it’s happening more than once, it needs to be stopped. Maybe they won’t catch her the next time or the time after that, but I’m hopeful that they’re aware of it now and will be on the lookout.
I believe in God but I also believe in karma and one way or another, this will all work itself out.
Have you ever been scammed? What would you have done?