Scams are rising – and they're not just online – so it's important for everyone to constantly stay vigilant and aware. We'd all like to think we're impervious to trickery, but individuals are out there pulling schemes by appealing to our emotions. And while some of us want nothing more than to help others and to make someone's life easier, this kindness can easily be taken advantage of. This kind of scam, unfortunately, is not a rare occurrence. This week, a young woman on TikTok nearly lost $800 at Target when she came across a lady with a sob story. She shared her experience on the platform to warn others, garnering millions of views and likes.
According to @arianatomlinson23, a woman at the store asked her boyfriend if he could buy her baby formula while she was trying on a bikini.
"And he came up to me and was like, 'Hey, this lady's asking for baby formula. I'm gonna go help her out,'" she recalls. "And I was like, 'Oh, I'll help her, too.'" When both of them walked out of what I assume is the dressing room, they find the lady with a "basket full of formula." @ariantomlinson23 explains that they don't have kids, so they're completely unaware of the prices.
"So as she's telling us her little sob story, she has three kids, she's a single mom, she has to send her kids back to Bulgaria with her f*cking mom, I don't even know," she says. "As she's saying this, she is loading up the cart with other things, and I'm trying to migrate us over to self-checkout. Because I'm like, 'Okay, this is gonna be a little bit pricey.'"
When they got to self-checkout and scanned each formula, they noticed how the price started to rack up. "The numbers are getting pretty high, and she's trying to distract me," the TikToker explains. The woman asks her if she could give her her phone number so that she could pay her back – but when @arianatomlinson23 called the number, the lady's phone did not ring or light up. "That should have been a red flag to me," she admits. "But I was like, 'Oh, that was a little weird. Whatever.' I look over. It's $800. $800 worth of baby stuff. So at this point, my heart is in my butthole. Like, I cannot afford to pay this much."
Unfortunately, she and her boyfriend bit their tounges because they didn't want to seem like "*ssholes" – so they paid for it. @arianatomlinson23 realizes she fell for a ruse, and that the woman would probably return all of the formula to get the money back. "Before I could say anything, my boyfriend had already handed her the receipt. And we started walking away, and I was literally shaking, almost crying. And I was like, 'We just got scammed.'"
Luckily, her boyfriend managed to "smooth talk" the scammer into giving him the receipt. As they stood in the aisle, they discussed a plan. They agreed to talk to the guest services desk at Target to ask for help. While they were there, a lady with a cart full of formula that looked similar to the scammer stared at them. She was on the phone with someone.
@arianatomlinson23 finds out they can't do anything unless they had the formula, according to the employee. As she and her boyfriend returned to her car, she saw the lady with formula walking to her vehicle, though it wasn't the same one who scammed them. They pull up next to her, took a photo of her license plate to report her, and began following her. In the process, they spotted a gold minivan identical to the silver one the lady was in. "Somehow, I knew that that was the lady we had bought things for," she says.
The couple was determined to get their money back. They needed to pay rent, after all. So they chased the scammer in the golden minivan and sped through stop signs and red lights until the lady finally pulled over on the side of the road. "But before my boyfriend could even fully get out of my car, she opened up her window, dropped the target bag, almost in the road," she explains. The scammer then immediately sped off after abandoning the bag of items.
They returned to Target to return all the items and get their money back, though they were afraid the manager wouldn't let them. Fortunately, they did, and @arianatomlinson23 even showed her audience the receipt in another video to prove she was telling the truth! "So yeah, be careful, guys. If anybody asks you to buy baby stuff, don't do it," she concludes.
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