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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