East Bay News

Online hoax targets laid-off auto workers

Friday, May 04, 2012

Someone on Facebook is trying to cheat 2,700 laid-off auto workers, and possibly their online friends, out of thousands of dollars they can't afford to lose.

Ron Weber was on his Facebook page when he was contacted by someone he thought was a former NUMMI co-worker. The person posing as his friend told him he was eligible for a grant.

His fake friend said word of the grant came from the NUMMI Reemployment Center, the job training program set up when the auto plant shut down two years ago.

Weber e-mailed the contact, who told him that all he had to do to become eligible for a $120,000 grant was wire $1,500 to an address in North Carolina.

Weber wired the money, but then he was told to wire an additional $2,155, which he did.

Weber got suspicious when a cousin contacted him on Facebook and gave him wrong information.

"So I started asking him, how's my Uncle Leo doing? He said, oh, he's doing just fine. That was another mistake because he's dead," Weber said.

At that point, Weber says he recognized he was the victim of fraud.

Weber may not be alone. It appears scammers were joining NUMMI Facebook groups and assuming the identities of friends to dupe additional victims.

The NUMMI Reemployment Center has sent out warning e-mails to 2,700 clients.

"Of course we're victims as well. They're using our name representing the good name of our agency that has been assisting them the last couple of years. Certainly we feel the pain as well," said Sal Lopez of the NUMMI Reemployment Center.

The case is being handled by North Carolina police, and Livermore police are putting out a warning.

Lt. Matthew Sarsfield of the Livermore Police Department said people need to be vigilant when they're online.

"When you put something on the Internet or exchange information on the Internet, you really don't know who you're talking to. It may be one of your friends. It may be somebody totally unknown to you who's collecting information to make you a victim of a crime," he said.

Even though he hasn't been able to find a new job since NUMMI closed two years ago, Weber said he's not really bothered by the loss of $3,600.

"I don't feel bad at all. I really don't. It's just my identity and my friends and my family, especially when he hit my family. That's where it really bothered me," he said.

Facebook did not respond to an inquiry about the incident.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
nummi, fremont, scam, east bay news, david louie
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