Scamming unfortunately has become a global norm in today’s society, from the PPP Loan scam we saw throughout the pandemic to decades of ongoing housing fraud that cost many aspiring tenants and homeowners severe financial loss.
One Chicago man cooked up an elaborate scheme that tricked two sisters out of $36,000 in cash collectively by using Cook County’s CEDA and GRAMMY-winning rapper Chance The Rapper as pawns in his diabolical plan.
CBS interviewed sisters Ibi and Lulu Cole, both successful Black businesswomen in finance, about an ordeal they went through back in January that started as a casual conversation about cars and ended with creditors inquiring about declined payments. Lulu was the one who first came in contact with the man, who claimed to be in partnership with the CEDA and Chance the Rapper in an effort to help people pay their bills. Although she initially turned down his request to give away $600,000 by the end of the day, she eventually gave in to his coercion and let him pay a phone bill.
After his $350 payment of her T-Mobile bill seemingly went through, she went a step further and let him pay off her $45,000 mortgage on a house in Roseland. She describes being “floored” after that was also confirmed as paid by Wells Fargo. Ibi then stepped to get her $150,000 mortgage on an Englewood two-flat paid off, then two credit cards and a smaller mortgage. The scam part came in once the man asked both sisters to give up restitution for his kindness, with Lulu thankfully giving him $9,000 in cash and Lulu withdrawing a whopping $27,500 as a cash payment.
Take a look below to see how things officially went sour for the Cole sisters, via CBS News:
“‘And then one by one by one by one, started getting messages, started getting emails,’ said Ibi. ‘Suddenly, we’re getting a text message like, ‘Oh, there’s a problem with your payment please contact us.’ And it was right at that moment where I knew it’s over.’
CFA’s Jack Gillis told CBS 2 this shouldn’t have happened to the Cole sisters.
‘When most of us deposit checks, either in our accounts, or to pay off certain loans, we’re notified that nothing is going to transpire until that check clears,’ he said.
Gillis looked over the initial confirmations the sisters received from the banks, lenders and T-Mobile and added: ‘They simply told these victims that everything was good; that they were paid off. So, there’s no reason in the world for them to have doubted notices from an institution such as Wells Fargo, or New Rez.’
The sisters lost more than just money. Remember their commitment to community?
‘We were in the middle of building an afterschool community center. And the funds that I had set aside to build that community center. I’m no longer going to be able to build it,’ said Ibi.”
It was later revealed that the con man, who told them his name was Jeffrey Washington, had lied about not only his name but also the association with Chance and the CEDA. He apparently had been using the same scam since as early as 2014, with the Chance The Rapper addition not coming in until 2018. Eight other people fell victim to his scam, ranging from $500 to as much as $8,600 per person. He’s believed to have used the same scam on another person as recently as March, where he allegedly got $3,000.
While the hand-to-hand cash payments are virtually impossible to be refunded, the Cole sisters with support from the Consumer Federation of America want the banks to take some blame for giving false information when it comes to payment confirmations. For anyone that’s gone through delayed bank payments, that’s definitely a relatable argument.
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