Before you rush to judgment, you should know that Veronica’s story happens all the time to New Mexicans. According to the FBI, 42,000 New Mexicans reported being scammed out of $31 million – this past year alone.
In April 2020, a month into the pandemic, Veronica found herself facing money problems. Her multiple sclerosis forced her to leave work and rely on a disability check.
That is when Veronica received an email saying she had won.
“I saw this DM on Twitter,” she said. “I was playing around, Twitter was new to me and I saw the email saying I won $30,000.”
At first, Veronica ignored it but the scammer was persistent.
“He sent me a letter saying I was a third-place winner on a Twitter contest and I didn’t realize I had even gotten in a contest,” she said. “I was like, ‘Wow, yay!’ It was for $150,000.”
The scammer posed as the CEO of a well-known company that does business in Albuquerque.
“I called and asked if it was real and they said it was real,” Veronica said. “They said I had to pay a clearance fee to get the winnings and I said, ‘Ohh okay, I can probably come up with some of it but not all of it.'”
Throughout the next several months, Veronica and the scammer played a vicious game: She was told to buy thousands of dollars in gift cards, take a photo of the front and back of the cards and then text or email him the photos.
One time, Veronica even sent a box of cash to a random New York address that…