UPDATE: Scammers Leave Morehead City Mom Penniless, But Bank Reimburses Her

By: Lynette Taylor
By: Lynette Taylor

A Morehead City woman had thousands of dollars stolen from her..only she's never saw the person who did it...Because she was scammed over the Internet.

You may remember Shawnna Oakes, A mother of three, who we featured for our scam alert series.

Oakes had an online ad to sell her bedroom set. She received a check from a buyer overseas for more than the amount--to supposedly cover shipping costs.

After her bank verified it was authentic, she cashed it and wired 15 hundred to a shipper. Days later she was told it was counterfeit.

After our story aired, many of you responded on WITNTV dot com and even an attorney from Beaufort took her case.

Today we glad to report that Oakes has been reimbursed and according to her --- Woodland Forest Bank went over and beyond to resolve the matter.


Shawnna Oakes has multiple sclerosis and three boys, one with a disability; now she has no money because of a scam artist.

Surfing the web for merchandise is like shopping in the world's largest superstore. For sellers and buyers it can be the easiest way to do business...But for scam artists, it's their playground for ripping you off.

Shawnna Oakes' experience with a scam artist has cost her big time.

"I'm $1500 in the negative right now, plus all the weekly charges just for being in the negative," Oakes says.

Bank fees along with the money she wired to someone she thought she knew began with a simple ad on the Internet. She posted an ad on WITN Classifieds for a bed set she was selling. She posted it the item for $1,500. The day after she posted the sale, she heard from a potential buyer, named Smith Powell. Oakes says she talked to him over the phone for a week before they made a deal.

That's when things got, as Oakes says, "fishy." Powell sent her a cashier's check for much more than the $1,500 she had asked for. The check was worth $2,950.

"When I got it, I kind of thought it was fishy because of the overseas address. So I took it back to my bank and asked them to verify it and they told me, it was good. So I cashed it."

Powell said the extra money was supposed to cover shipping fees. Oakes sent that money to the person supposedly handling the shipping, Doren Damien in the United Kingdom. She wired a check for $1,562. Powell then sent another check to Oakes for $1,650. She wasn't why she got that check It was at that time her bank discovered something was wrong with the first check.

"Three days later they called me and told me the check was counterfeit and therefore, i had to pay it back," Oakes said.

Oakes is unemployed and on disability for multiple sclerosis or MS. She's raising three boys--a 12-year-old and one-year-old twins. One of the twins, Max, has a genetic disorder which requires him to be on a feeding tube. With medical supplies needed for her and her son, money is tight. This situation didn't make it better.

Oakes said her bank kept her disability checks to make up for the money she owed, leaving her penniless.

"I got hit not only by the scammer, but by my bank as well," Oakes said.

WITN contacted Oakes' bank, Wood Forest Bank in Morehead City. They declined to comment about this case.

"There are a number of warning signs out there, and we're encouraging banks and credit unions to ask questions," said North Carolina's Attorney General, Roy Cooper. "The key is, they want you to wire them money before that check clears the bank. They know as soon as that check is dishonored you will be left holding the bag."

"I just want to have my money back and let people be aware these scams are getting bigger and better," Oakes said.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Tanya Location: Maryland on Jul 21, 2008 at 09:25 AM
    Today I received a cashiers check for $3200 over the asking price for a dining room table. Bank verified it was fraudulent. "Issuing" bank is Woodforest. Arrived in an overseas air mail envelope. "Purchaser's" email is phoney and get's returned as "does not exhist" Person in question calls himself Joe Tommy. Watch out for these factors. Woodforest states that the signature on the check (clerk) hasn't worked there for 5 months.
  • by christl Location: n on Jun 16, 2008 at 01:23 PM
    i almost had this happen to me too.i was sent a check for 3000$ when i was selling something fot 175 dollers . a red flag went up. noway if they could pay that much they could buy it new where they were brand new!at the time, and now ,i really was broke and needed the money ,but not the trouble. im disabled too, that would mean no bills paid no money to eat with nothing!
  • by Anonymous Location: NC on Jun 2, 2008 at 07:46 PM
    I am really glad that she got her money back, and things are looking better for her and the family. This has been a lesson for me as well.
  • by Coffee Talk Location: NC on Jun 2, 2008 at 01:16 PM
    We do hear about scams all the time, but to personally attack this women and who pays for her disibilities is disturbing to me. You are saying it is her fault, the bank verified the check and cashed it. I believe she covered herself legally. If she was not savvy enough to know that people like this exist. Maybe it is because she has alot on her plate and who are we to judge her. Shame on you "Anonymous" for making this about her and her and her sons medical and ways of payment. If you want to go on a crusade of the Medicaid system, do it appropriately and not at this women How about the dead beat dads who don't pay a dime so moms can afford insurance!
  • by Chris Location: Greenville on Jun 1, 2008 at 05:05 PM
    I would agree that the bank went above and beyond their obligation! She fell for that trap hook,line, and sinker! That is one of the oldest internet scams in the world! Why would someone send you a check for 1500 MORE than what they owed you and TRUST you to send them that money back??
  • by Anonymous Location: Greenville on Jun 1, 2008 at 05:17 AM
    You hear about scammers all the time --people need to realize when you get a check for more that the amount you should realize something is "fishy". Why would someone spend that kind of money to have something shipped. You should have held the money to make sure the check cleared before you wired it. You should have a paypal account for purchases. As far as your medical bills I imagine you have medicaid which should cover all of your and your son's medical expenses.
  • by Anonymous Location: Obama 08 4 Prez! on May 31, 2008 at 10:41 PM
    I guess ignorance is bliss. I'm glad this woman got her money back any why, I wonder who else has been scammed? What a shame.
  • by joe on May 31, 2008 at 06:26 PM
    You can't mess with the Wheatley boys. Good job.
  • by Concerned Location: eastern nc on May 31, 2008 at 05:38 PM
    Chris Beachmam I think it was awesome for you to take Ms.Oakes case and help her out in this horrible situation. I also think it was awesome for WNB to do the right thing and give this lady her money back plus some of the expenses that it costed her. I hope that this has been a learning lesson for everyone including the bank. Way to go WITN for bring this case to light!!
  • by Cactus Location: Strabane,NC on May 31, 2008 at 04:36 PM
    After all these comments, has any one learned anything? If its to good to be true then it is.

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