Scammers target college students eager for scholarship money

By Leigh Frillici

HOUSTON - A credit card scam that wound up costing Texas Wesleyan College sophomore Taylor Coleman and her sister thousands of dollars started with a Snapchat shoutout from a friend.

"He posted, if you're looking for cash and you’re a college student, hit me up," said Taylor Coleman, of Cypress.

Taylor Coleman said she reached out to that friend, who told her that if she opened a Barclay credit card and bought some Apple products, she would get $15,000 in scholarship money for school.

Her sister, Sydney Coleman, a senior at Texas Christian University, decided to do it too. Their intentions were good.

“This was really to help my parents,” Taylor said.

She wanted to help her parents make college payments. 

Sydney, who is on a scholarship at TNC, thought she could use the money to buy her mother a car.

The girls said the friend and another man took them on a shopping spree to the Commons in the Willowbrook area. They were told to open up credit cards at places like Conn's, Fry's, Best Buy and Nordstroms where they bought thousands of dollars of merchandise.

“He bought three Burberry purses on my credit card and that alone cost $3,000,” Taylor said.

“I bought another Apple computer,” Sydney said. “That alone is $6,000.  I thought, ‘I’ll get the money back.’”

They said the men took the receipts and the merchandise.

They were told to buy things for themselves, like Givenchy Sliders priced at $250 and sneakers priced at $650. They were also given about $200 each.

An email confirmation came through to the sisters, summing up the thousands of dollars of items they gave to the men. 

In return, they say, they were promised money for college and their credit card bills. Now they say that money never came through, their friend will not pick up the phone and they are starting off their college year thousands of dollars in debt.

Taylor owes about $1,300 and Sydney owes about $7,000.

It wasn't the surprise they were expecting to share with their parents.

“I'm just so hurt that they were taken advantage of like that,” said the girls' mother, Kelly Coleman. 

Kelly said they had discussed never giving out their personal information. And the girls said they knew not to do that.

They opened the credit cards themselves, never realizing they wouldn’t be paid back for the purchases they were asked to make.

The sisters say they tried to report the incident to police, but were told they couldn’t file a report because they received some cash from the men.

To add insult to injury, they were told they would receive an iPhone 7 and a Mac computer Tuesday morning.

The two young women say they never arrived. 

The teens said they now know what a big mistake they made.

 “If it has anything to do with money, ask some advice from an adult or a parent,” Taylor advised.   

Now all the girls are left with are some designer shoes, thousands of dollars in credit card bills and a hard-learned lesson.

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