A mum desperate for work to pay for her sick husband’s care was conned into handing over her life savings in a highly-elaborate employment scam.
Nikki, 53, who lives in Brisbane, was already in dire financial straits before a man named ‘Alvis’ targeted her on LinkedIn, offered her online marketing work, and tricked her out of $15,000.
The ‘hard-working’ mum is also a carer for her husband, 62, who is in the later stages of dementia with multiple other medical conditions. Nikki needed to work from home to be with him and desperately needed money to pay for his medical bills.
She listed herself as looking for work on LinkedIn and was contacted by Alvis, who offered her small projects that she could chip away at from home.
To win her trust Alvis shared stolen images in online chats, including photos of a woman and child he claimed were his wife and kids.
Nikki (pictured) was already in dire financial straits before a man named ‘Alvis’ targeted her using LinkedIn with the offer of online marketing work before tricking her out of $15,000
Alvis told Nikki she would have to deposit money into a bank account to receive her online projects and would be highly paid later
He also ‘co-opted’ the company name and logo of a genuine digital marketing agency, US-based Dune 7, to appear legitimate.
But the real Dune 7 was not connected to Alvis and Nikki was not doing any work for that company. Dune 7 is attempting to take legal action against the scammer.
Nikki was working for the scammer, who she had paid $15,000 to receive tasks.
He later began romantically hitting on her, before asking for another $10,000 to sort out ‘issues’ holding up the previous payment.
Australians are being warned about a sneaky scam in which an email purportedly from a major bank offers higher interest rates on term deposits.
The email ruse shows a brochure which includes a letterhead and phone number from ING offering favourable fixed term deposits.
A spokesperson from ING confirmed the brochure is a scam and urged customers and anyone who has been sent the email to ensure they verify the document and the email address
Nikki refused to pay it and Alvis responded by flying into a rage. She was forced to block him online.
Her sister Elizabeth said when Nikki realised she had deposited thousands to do work she would never get paid for she ‘crumbled’.
‘As you can imagine, as well as the devastating financial implications she is unbelievably humiliated that she fell for this scam,’ Elizabeth wrote on an online fundraising page.
Nikki was left unable to pay her own rent and had to borrow money from her elderly mother in order to avoid being evicted.
‘She was a prime target for these people…desperately looking for work. A financial situation that was deteriorating weekly…and no way out on the horizon,’ Elizabeth explained.
Alvis began by ‘training’ Nikki online and then paid her $263 for one job.
But he then told her much higher-paying tasks, called ‘expedited journeys’, required her to pay a fee to get the work.
Alvis assured her that once she paid to receive the task she’d earn huge commissions in return, so began to transfer money into a work account he set up for her.
‘After completing the 38 journeys you will be able to withdraw your recharged funds along with your commissions,’ he told her in a chat message.
‘So you have to spend money to make money?’ she replied.
All Nikki’s communications with Alvis were in instant chat messages.
The tasks to be completed started to come in so quickly that she had to make multiple deposits to keep up. But she wasn’t receiving payment for the completed work.
Thinking there were delays in payment processing, Nikki continued to make deposits and emptied her bank account to keep up with the new jobs.
Then she took out a $6000 bank loan, still believing it would be turned into much more because of the high commissions promised.
By the time deposited more money to receive new tasks, she was $15,000 down and the reality of the gut-wrenching situation started to become clear.
Her sister Elizabeth said when Nikki realised she had deposited thousands to do work for a scammer who would never pay her, she ‘crumbled’
Nikki, who didn’t want to provide her surname for fear of reprisal from the scammers, eventually confessed the losses to her sister Elizabeth about her losses.
When Elizabeth searched online and found the scam had happened to others, her sister was devastated.
‘I was sitting with Nikki as she detailed the events of the last couple of weeks and I watched her face crumble as she realised as she told me out loud, that what she’d been told by the ’employer’ was simply not feasible…or genuine.’
‘I showed her an article in the paper of a similar scam and when she read it, and recognised the similarities between her experience the bottom fell out of her world as she realised she had in fact been scammed.’
Elizabeth set up a GoFundMe to try and help Nikki recoup some of her losses.
Nikki ‘worked hard for everything she had and never asked for anything in return’, Elizabeth said.
‘Anyone that knows Nikki has seen that she would give the shirt off her back if you needed it.
‘She feels absolutely lost and is struggling both emotionally and financially.
‘Any money raised will go towards firstly to paying our mum back then paying the loan back and then putting some money away to support her husband.’
Daily Mail Australia approached LinkedIn and Dune 7 for comment.