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Menomonie woman loses life savings, scammed out of $17,000

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Scam victim Marjorie typing

MENOMONIE (WQOW)- $17,000 lost and her life savings drained, a Menomonie scam victim is raising awareness by sharing her story.

"Life is Good" and "Today I Choose Joy," these are just some of the positive signs scattered throughout Marjorie's home in Menomonie, but after getting scammed out of her life savings, the irony feels thick.

"It's devastating to go backwards when you're finally getting your life in order," she said.

It all started in early March. 

A recent divorcee and debt-free for two years, Marjorie thought she'd give online dating a try, and received a notification on her laptop that she matched with 10 people.

"As soon as I clicked the button to see more, my screen froze," she said.  "There was a big 'danger,' 'your account has been compromised,' kind of a thing and it wouldn't let me do anything more on my screen. It said, 'Call this number,' so I did."

The scammer pretended they were working with Royal Credit Union and used a scare tactic on her. They claimed there was a withdrawal pending on her savings account, and urged her to take out all of her money in cash.

After finding out the RCU in Menomonie didn't have enough cash, she withdrew her money from an RCU in Eau Claire.  She says the credit union worker did ask her twice if she really wanted to withdraw that much money, and she was still able to.  The scammer also told her to keep all of this a secret for their own "investigation."

"I run over to this machine called Bitstop and proceed to put all my cash in there," she said. "He gave me the pin number.  He gave me the QR code to access it.  I just thought it was all legit because he needs all that because he's going to put it back."

The scammer tricked her again the next day and got her to send all the money in her checking account.

After they tried to make her send money through her credit card company, she finally saw the red flags, but it was $17,000 too late.

"I'm just left feeling so insecure and so unconsidered and so humiliated and so vulnerable," Marjorie said.

Detective Lt. Chad Mroczenski with the Menomonie Police Department said Marjorie is not the only person to fall victim to these scams. So far this year, the department received 23 reports of fraud or scamming. On average, they get around 118 to 132 complaints per year.

"If it's something that's too good to be true, it usually is," Mroczenski said. "Say you get a notification that you won the lottery. If you didn't enter it, you more likely didn't win."

If you suspect a call or text is a scam, he said to take a pause, and do your due diligence.

"If you feel like there's something wrong, that this might not be legitimate, hang up the phone, take your credit card out, look on the back. There's a 1-800 number that you can contact and just to verify," Mroczenski said.

As for Marjorie, she has not been able to recover her money. She still has her pension but fears she may need to get on Social Security, or find a cheaper home. 

Marjorie says she's not a charity case and doesn't expect people to give her money.  She just wants to find answers and warn others.

"Anything that pops up on your screen, don't open it.  Don't call the number."

Menomonie Police admit they do have limited resources and said once the money is put into cryptocurrency or gift cards and goes out of the country, it is practically untraceable.

If you are a victim of a scam, report it to your local police or the FBI.

Editor's note: Marjorie has asked News 18 to not share her face or her full name.

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