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Con artists reach out through Facebook

Scammer pretends to be Kid Rock

Facebook is a site where you can catch up with friends, share news, and you might even follow some of your favorite celebrities.

However, it's also become a hunting ground for scam artists who are looking to steal your money.

Ruth to the Rescue has already warned you about scammers reaching out via phone, email, text and even U.S. mail. Now, we've come across two sneaky scams that started on Facebook. Two local woman ran into trouble with someone pretending to be one of metro Detroit's biggest stars.

Fake rock star scam

"He's a great performer. I like his music. He's relatable, very relatable!" said Sherrie Bratton, of Clyde, Mich., when describing Kid Rock.

That relatability is what made Bratton think she might be chatting with Kid Rock after seeing a post from a "Robert Richey" on Facebook. She commented on some photos and he reached out to her.

"I stared at the post first when it said he wanted to friend me and I'm like, 'Get out of here!'"

While she was skeptical, she said, "I heard that he does like to be in contact. He does have a website."

Only half-believing her good luck, Bratton told her friend Debbie Mitchell what was happening. Soon both were chatting with the person claiming to be Kid Rock. At one point, he told them both to start texting him on to his phone, but they should never call him. This was all happening during the singer's run of shows in Clarkston.

"He would talk to you prior to the shows. He would say he would have to take a rest cause he's got to get rested. I'm like, 'Oh yeah, show later.' In character the whole time," said Bratton.

Eventually, this "Kid Rock" made a bizarre request. He claimed he didn't trust someone in his management team and he wanted them to pick up a suitcase containing valuable documents inside.

The scheme got more elaborate.

"'But you'll have to pay the fee for FedEx,' which was $950 for a brief case, which must have been a really big briefcase," Bratton said.

That was a big red flag.

"My first response was, 'Well if you don't trust someone in your organization, you're Kid Rock, fire them!'" she said.

Bratton and Mitchell didn't take the bait and you'll see Bratton's final message to the scammer in a moment.

Fake friend, free money

First, meet Iris Dixon, of Warren. She ran into another scam making the rounds on Facebook.

"At first, I was excited because that money would really help my family," she said.

The scammers trying to trick Dixon were even sneakier. They hacked into a friends account and sent Dixon a message via Facebook Messenger.

"She mentioned that she'd won some money and I was like, 'That's awesome, I'm so happy for you.' Then, she said that I was in the same list of drawing for that money," said Dixon.

Dixon was told she'd won $70,000. However, when she started asking too many questions, "The woman on the other end, she started getting a little hostile. OK, I'm about 90 percent sure that this is not my friend, this is a scam."

When the woman asked for $1,000 for Dixon to collect the prize, she told her mother what was happening and together they shut down the scammer.

"I didn't know you could use Facebook to do that," said Dixon. "I'm definitely going to be a lot more careful."

Protect yourself, spot scammers

Ruth to the Rescue and the Better Business Bureau have worked on some advice that might help you spot scammers and protect your money:

1) Watch for poor grammar and poor spelling in any messages, even if those messages from people you know.
2) If something sounds too good to be true, never click on a suspicious link.
3) Don't let people into your social media accounts, if they claim the can customize the account. Don't let anyone in your accounts!
4) Never share your bank information or Social Security number with anyone on social media.
5) If you get a message from someone you think is a friend, contact them on phone number you know is legitimate. In Dixon's case, the scammer told her she'd changed her phone number! Reach out to the person at the number in your contacts, don't call the "new" one.
6) Always double check friend requests.
7) Alert your friends if you see something suspicious so they know.
8) Report fake accounts to the social media company.
9) Facebook doesn't allow you to see who's viewed your profile, so don't click on anything claiming it will allow that function.
10) Be careful of shortened links. Scammers use them to disguise dangerous links.
11) Finally, be very careful about the information you choose to share on social media. The Better Business Bureau suggests you don't share your address, work-related information, relationship status or phone number. Remember the more information you share, the more information scammers can use to steal your identity or to come up with a story that might trick you to share more information or your money.

More scams out there

While Ruth to the Rescue is highlighting these two scams reported by viewers, don't forget there are plenty of other schemes that could come through social media. The same scams we've warned you about by phone or email, could start on social media.

For example, the "Grandparent Scam" where someone pretends to be a grandchild in some kind of trouble. Or, the "Military Romance" scam, where someone pretends to be a member of the military in a foreign country and tries to romance a victim until they send money. Everything we've told you about other scams can apply to social media. The social sites are just another way scammers are trying to reach out, and win your trust.

Final Thoughts

As for the viewers who shared their stories, all of them are angry and frustrated that con artists are out there working to trick the vulnerable.

"To take advantage of families and people who are sick, who are in hard times, that's just low," said Dixon.

And now, the final message Bratton sent to the scammer posing as Kid Rock. It's the kind of message many of you might send if you think someone is trying to rip you off.

"I definitely made my point. I wouldn't want to repeat it and said, 'Don't you ever contact me again. I've gone to the police and I've put you on blast.'"

Unfortunately, the St. Clair County Sheriff's Office told Bratton there wasn't much they could do to track down the scammers. Law enforcement has told Ruth to the Rescue it's often very tough to track scammers who can be in different states, or even different countries. That's why it's so important to be on guard and be ready to protect yourself.

Ruth to the Rescue reached out to Facebook and Kid Rock, but has not heard back. This was somebody posing as Kid Rock, it could happen to any celebrity. So, be careful if any alleged stars reach out to you.


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