WYOMING, Mich. — Vickie Lake says the next month is going to be tight money-wise. That's after learning a $5,000 lesson the hard way. It's one she doesn't want anyone else to experience.
"I feel violated. I feel victimized. I never thought I would fall for a scam involving money, and I did," Lake said.
She says she put trust in a woman she thought was her former pastor. Instead, it was an imposter who sent her a Facebook message. The imposter told Lake about a free government grant too good to pass up.
"Here's the certificate that says I had been awarded the $100,000," Lake displayed the texted image.
The fake pastor had put her in touch with an agent Allen Morgan who only communicated with Lake via text message. He says he needed $2,200 to move forward with awarding her the grant.
The person she thought was her pastor offered to pay $1,000 toward the fee if Lake could come up with the rest of the money and send it to an address in Maryland.
"...I did on my payday borrow $600 out of my financial institution and took $600 out of my savings," she explained.
Lake said, "Once I did that, there was a response to give them my phone carrier information."
She says she gave agent Morgan her Verizon account information. The shyster then purchased three iPhone 11s which were $4,000 total. The phone purchases, which Lake ultimately gave authorization for, were charged to her Verizon account.
She received the phones and says she was instructed to mail them to New York.
Lake says she realized she was being scammed "when they said that I had to pay the united states government, the IRS, $20,000 in order to receive the grant."
That's when Lake called her actual former pastor and spoke with her over the phone. She realized the Facebook message came from someone else who had set up an account with the pastor’s name and photo.
"Looking back, I see the mistakes that I made. But I just don't want anyone else to fall victim to this. They can really sound like they're the real deal, and they're not," Lake explained.
Lake says she's working with Verizon to get the phone charges cleared and says the phone's have been shut off, but she knows she’s not going to get her $1,200 back. At last check, the so-called agent's number is still in service.