• Victim says she paid scammers $15,000 and drove overnight to DC to do ‘community service'

    By: Jason Stoogenke

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A young woman was so afraid she was in trouble -- both in criminal court and civil court -- she gave scammers thousands of dollars. She also said she drove overnight to Washington, D.C., to report for community service that wasn't real.

    Osnahir Villegas uses MetroPCS for her phone service. "This nightmare start[ed] like three months ago," she told Action 9's Jason Stoogenke. 

    Villegas said she got a call from someone who said a company that works with MetroPCS was suing her. She thought, "That's insane."

    [Action 9: Scammers use popular app to rent out homes they don't own]

    She said the man who called her told her he was with a federal court in Washington, D.C., he was there to help, he had found her a lawyer and he had that attorney on the line. Villegas said that "lawyer" told her to wire money.

    "'If you're not paying today, you're against the government of the U.S. and you're going to be in jail.' And I was, 'What?'" Villegas said.

    She said a few days later, the fake lawyer told her she had to go to Washington, D.C., to do community service.

    "I drove all that night, and by 6:30[a.m.], I was in D.C.," she said. "And court by court, asked them if, 'You know where is the federal court?'"

    She realized how many courts are in Washington, D.C., and that it was a Saturday, so they were closed. Obviously, she never found the federal court she was looking for. She said a police officer she asked for directions told her she'd been scammed.

    She said she gave the scammers $15,000 total. She doesn't know why the scammers picked her. 

    Stoogenke called the numbers they were using. They never picked up.

    Don't answer numbers you don't know, and don't trust your caller ID. Scammers spoof numbers all the time.

    If someone is suing you, you'll get served with real papers. It'll be up to you to find a lawyer. Courts don't call you out of the blue and have a lawyer on the line waiting to talk about your case.

    Next Up: