Scammed In South Dakota: How To Avoid Becoming A Victim
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Damita Goings thought she had finally found her dream home in Sioux Falls but quickly became the victim of a scam.
“I just opened up to my auntie one day and said I need to get this out,” Goings said.
She has quite the story to tell and one that’s not easy for her to talk about.
“I de-activated Facebook for a while; I was so humiliated, embarrassed, frustrated and ashamed,” she said.
But now this Rapid City mom is opening up – with the hope her story will help someone else. It all began in a quiet Sioux Falls neighborhood where Goings had found a house on Craigslist to rent.
The promise: pay a deposit, first month’s rent and it’s a done deal. “But once we started going to send the money, I just had this bad feeling,” she said.
$950 later, she got the lease but the keys never came.
“He wasn’t responding to me with where are my keys, why aren’t you responding to me?” Goings said.
And suddenly the seller was gone, as was about $2500 in Goings’ rent and moving expenses.
“We gave up everything in Rapid City, our house, our jobs, everything,” she said.
“People would be astounded to know the number of scams going on at one time,” said Jessie Schmidt with the South Dakota Bureau of the Better Business Bureau.
Schmidt says most scammers are not even in South Dakota or the United States. They work on the other side of the world, in places across Europe.
And South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says that can make it tough to track criminals down. He says scamming crimes grew in South Dakota by one-percent last year.
The state has been fighting back in various ways, such as enacting tougher laws.
“If the scammer is taking more than $1,000 from South Dakotans it becomes a felony,” Jackley said.
Seven investigators and an attorney in the AG’s office focus solely on scams and they are waiting for your questions.
“That’s what your Attorney General Consumers Division is for,” he said. “Call our number, visit our website.”
There is also the AARP Fraud Watch Network.
“We provide this free of charge for anyone, you don’t have to be in AARP, don’t have to be over 50,” said Cathy McLeer with AARP South Dakota.
“It still hurt, I want to cry but I just turn those tears to strength now,” Goings said.
But if there’s anything to take away from her story, it’s this simple thought: “watch out for people that steal your dreams, they might be gone forever, but it’s not your fault,” Goings said.
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