Southern Illinois Swap Scam

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By Brandon Merano

WSIL -- The Facebook group Heartland Community Swap is seeing fake profiles pop up.

Online swap groups can be a good thing as long as you're careful.  Amy Nowakowski learned that firsthand when she was harassed by a man she met on the site.

"I gave him my phone number to text me and he proceeded to continually text me. He was asking for assistance and wanted me to bring items to him in Carbondale," said Amy.

After she declined, the person wouldn't stop messaging her, so much s, that she changed her phone number. One of his aliases was Anthony McKellips.

"His story was that his wife had died after giving birth and he had this newborn baby and was in need of assistance," explained Nowakowski.

But the person was using pictures of Daniel Riordan, a fallen army lieutenant who was killed in Iraq in 2007. And it didn't stop there.

"He had taken a picture from my Facebook page of my son and put it on his Facebook claiming him as his child," said Nowakowski.

The man asked for help but refused to meet people in public. Instead, he asked anyone who offered assistance to drive to him. When Nowakowski found out other women were having the same problem she was concerned.

"A whole bunch of feelings came back and it's scary. The majority of them were younger women that were willing to help this man and luckily the outcome was that it was caught before nothing bad happened," said Nowakowski.

Heartland Community Swap Manager Tim Bynum posted a statement encouraging members to be cautious. He reported the Mckelips profile to Facebook, along with other fake accounts with a similar backstory.

"These people are willing to give their property away to help someone in need and then in the long run it's just someone scamming people and wanting to potentially hurt individuals," Nowakowski told News Three.

We reached the individual posting under the name Anthony McKelips. He denied using other people's pictures but otherwise refused to comment.

 

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