Brenda McWilliams said the Facebook message came at a very vulnerable time in her life:
It was three years to the day that her husband had passed away.
Someone claiming to be her friend, Jan, a former co-worker at Disney, sent her a Facebook message that day that seemed odd.
“She said 'well how are you? and did you hear about the good news?' ” McWillams told WKMG-TV.
McWilliams said she had worked with Jan at Disney’s Animal Kingdom but they had never communicated on social media and hadn’t spoken in weeks.
According to the message, she was eligible for money from the National Endowment Funds for Humanities.
“A good friend of hers called her and told her she was on the list and now Jan was informing me I was on the list …” McWilliams said.
The list had $100,000 next to her name but to claim the grant she would have to send $1,150 to a woman in Tennessee.
“There was a name” she recalled, “first, middle and last name, no street address just a city and a zip code.”
"Jan" put her in touch with a supposed federal agent named Marc Steven, who sent certificates and a photograph of himself with a recent grant recipient to prove this was all very real.
McWilliams was convinced and wired the money to Tennessee.
As she drove away from a Money Gram location, she had a sick feeling. She was right.
She sent a text to Jan and it turned out her friend had never sent the Facebook messages.
“I said, 'Jan have you been communicating with me regarding winning a prize?
' McWilliams said. ,”And she said 'no, I didn’t even recognize your number.'
As luck would have it, McWilliams checked with Money Gram and confirmed she could dispute a transaction.
She was able to stop the cash transfer and get her money back.
She said she wanted to go public with her experience so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.