COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A Columbus woman was nearly scammed after she got an unexpected email that appeared to come from a legitimate company, offering quick cash.
“Well, I received a link to an email from Jolt Energy Cola,” Tiffanie Halison said.
Halison said it seemed like the real deal.
“It had the Jolt Energy on the front, the email seemed legit. Came from the company, it had the copyright on it and everything,” Halison said. “So, it just made it seem like it was legit.”
It appeared to be an offer from Jolt to pay Halison if she agreed to advertise for the company — $2,800 to put a decal on her car for 12 weeks.
“It just appealed to me,” Halison said. “They said, ‘Send your name, your email, your occupation, your age and just the name of your bank.'”
Halison did, and almost immediately got a message from Jolt, telling her she was now “part of the team,” and would soon receive her first payment.
“About two days later, I received a priority envelope, with a check in the mail, and just the check itself. It was for $2,750,” Halison said. She then sent a message to her “Jolt representative” to confirm she got the money. He told Halison to deposit the check and keep $700 for herself. The rest of the money — $2,050 — would be sent to the car wrap “installation specialist.”
“Go to Walmart, here’s the gift card we want you to get, go get two gift cards, $1,000 a piece,” Halison said.
But that was a red flag for her, and for her friend, who knew about Halison’s side gig.
“My friend sent me a story that same day from somebody in San Diego in 2016, read the story… exact same thing,” Halison said. “I said, ‘Let me just play with them for a second.'”
Halison did not deposit the check or buy the gift cards, but she didn’t leave the suspected scammers empty handed either.
“So, I just took my Speedway card, took a picture of the strip, and I said, ‘Did you get that?’ And nothing else came through. They kind of knew then, ‘She’s got me,'” Halison said.
Knowing that she was nearly a victim, and that this wasn’t the first time someone’s fallen for a scam like this, Halison wanted to spread the word and warn others.
“This has happened before,” said Halison. “I think the news needs to know it’s happening again. And so, I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to write NBC4 and let them know that this is happening, and just see what they say.'”
Thankfully, Halison did not lose any money and said none of her information appears to be compromised. But she is monitoring that very closely.
As she mentioned, this type of scam is not new. The Federal Trade Commission has a lot of additional information about it.