An Edmonton man is warning others about the dangers of a new scam using the identities of local celebrities to endorse a fraud that cost him his life savings.
Sam Brockman watches Global News regularly and has added multiple personalities as friends on Facebook.
“I was sitting in my living room Sunday afternoon and I got a friend request from Shane Blakely,” he said.
The pair were already friends, but Brockman accepted the request anyways.
Right away, he started getting messages from the fake account.
“He was sending his condolences to me for the loss of my wife in June and he said, ‘You know, since I got my U.N. grant, my life has changed.'”
Brockman said he’d never heard of a U.N. grant and asked the fake Blakely for more information.
“You have to pay a certain fee to receive a certain amount of money,” he learned.
In Brockman’s case, he was supposed to trade $3,000 CDN for $150,000 USD. It seemed too good to be true.
He quickly sent the money to a woman he’d never heard of in Florida through Western Union.
“They came back to me and told me they needed some more money. Right away, a red light came on and I said, ‘No, this ain’t right.’ That’s when I decided I better bring this to the forefront of the EPS system.”
Brockman filed a police report. He said the officers told him this type of scam is fairly common. He’s embarrassed he fell for it.
“Every time I questioned something, I would go back to Shane Blakely and he would reassure me. ‘Oh no, it’s all legit. I’m going to go buy a brand new truck. I just put a new roof on my house. My friends are receiving all this money.’ Coming from a celebrity, I thought it’s got to be true, right? As I find out, it’s not true.”
In total, Brockman is out $3,120. He’s thankful he caught on early, but said the scam caught him at his most vulnerable and now he’s in a tough spot financially. He started a GoFundMe to collect donations to recover his savings.
“It’s unfortunate that I got duped by an online scammer. It’s hard to believe that they used a celebrity such as Shane Blakely and I feel bad about the whole situation.”
As for Blakely, he said he found out his account had been duplicated Sunday as well. He said he reported it to Facebook and asked friends to do the same.
“It’s sickening, knowing that someone actually paid money to someone asking for it. Knowing that it’s not me puts me in a position that’s not very comfortable. Someone’s ripping you off on my behalf – it’s eerie.”
Since the incident, Blakely has decided to delete his entire Facebook account, feeling his information just isn’t safe online.