Action 9

‘So cruel and heartless’: Grieving daughter scammed trying to get money for dad’s funeral

ORLANDO, Fla. — A grieving daughter has not been able to bury her own father after she fell victim to an online borrowing scam.  The scammers in this case were pretending to work for a legitimate online lender.

Sherry Hawkins, of Sumter County, considers herself a daddy’s girl.

“He was an amazing, amazing dad.  Just would do anything for anybody. He was just a good soul,” Hawkins said about her father Robert Wagoner.

She was heartbroken when he passed away in mid-January. But times are tight for the family, and Hawkins admits her credit score isn’t good.  So, she started looking online for loan options to try to get the money to bury her dad. That’s when she came across an ad for CashNetUSA.

Hawkins told Action 9′s Jeff Deal, “”I Googled them again, read the reviews. Everything seemed legitimate. Everything.”

After filling out an online application for a loan, Hawkins received a phone call.

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According to Hawkins the conversation went like this, “And (they) said, ‘Oh, yeah, we can get you approved.’  I said, ‘Okay.’  And they said, ‘Here’s what you need to do.’”

The person on the phone told her she needed to prove she had an account and that she needed to take some steps to improve her credit score. They asked her to receive several deposits into her bank account and then return the money using Cash App and wire transfers.

She said, “So they sent the money to my account. It showed it the next day that it was available. I did just as they said. I sent the money back to him through Cash App.

But it turns out, the scammers were using a look-alike website. They sent her bogus loan paperwork that looked legitimate.  It even included the Better Business Bureau logo.  The deposits into her account were bogus, too.

Bryan Oglesby, Director of Public Relations and Outreach for the Better Business Bureau of West Florida, told Action 9, “This is an example of an advanced fee loan scam that BBB has been warning about.”

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Oglesby said the BBB has received complaints about this specific scam company impersonating CashNetUSA going back more than ten years.

The real CashNetUSA has an “A+” rating with the BBB.  The scam CashNet an “F” rating.

“We have over 100 complaints presented to that profile regarding that scam situation,” Oglesby said.

The scam is apparently so prevalent, CashNetUSA also has a warning about the so-called “Advance-Fee Loan Scam” on its own website.

Hawkins told Action 9, “It’s been a nightmare. Nightmare. They’ve pretty much destroyed my life.”

Not only didn’t Hawkins get the loan, she lost a few thousand dollars of her own money in the scam and still hasn’t been able to come up with enough money to bury her own father.

“I don’t know how someone could be so cruel and heartless. They knew my situation and I told them that I needed the loan to bury my dad,” she said.

The real CashNetUSA didn’t respond to inquiries from Action 9, but its website shows it doesn’t even offer loans in Florida.  Be wary of any company or person that expects you to send them money first to get a loan especially if they’re asking for the money by wire transfer, payment apps or gift cards.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.