PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - A Pittsburgh woman planned to surprise her dad, a veteran with vision loss, with tickets to the Steelers' 'Immaculate Reception' game less than two weeks away. Instead, she was tricked and lost her money and Christmas gift to an alleged scammer.
On Friday, Misty Traska opened a package that was supposed to contain tickets to the Dec. 23 Steelers game against the Bengals.
"When I opened it, this is what was in it: a blank piece of paper. No tickets, no nothing," Traska said.
She was so excited. Her dad hadn't gone to a game in years since moving out of state.
"Just a special moment between a daughter and a father, you know, getting to go to a game together, seeing the team that we love," Traska said.
They also had never gone to a game together.
"I looked at Ticketmaster, but I couldn't afford those prices," Traska said.
Then, on Dec. 3, she found the perfect seats on Facebook Marketplace for them and two of her cousins, also vets, who were going to join them.
It wasn't the first time she bought something through Facebook, and in messaging the seller, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
"She was just really good at what she was doing," Traska said.
However, after they paid through Zelle and the tickets didn't come to their email, she reached out to the seller, who promised to overnight them.
"We were going to move forward. I was going to continue to plan to tailgate and everything with my cousins," Traska said. "Then, everything just came crashing down."
The envelope arrived the other day with no tickets, just that piece of paper.
"It was a big disappointment," Traska said.
Traska sent an email to the seller, who replied, "I didn't send a blank piece of paper. What are you talking about?"
Since then, Traska and her cousins filed reports to Facebook, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, the Federal Trade Commission, Zelle, and their bank, Clearview Federal Credit Union.
Zelle responded to her by saying they "take these situations very seriously…" and that they will "investigate, and take further action if necessary."
The bank told them they weren't liable since it was a cash transaction.
Traska also said police haven't been able to help.
"I think I was just so desperate for these tickets. [I] just acted too quickly in this situation," Traska said.
Now, Traska wants to warn others before they fall into the same trap.
"It's bad enough we lost money, and we got, you know, into this situation. I just don't want anyone else, especially two weeks before Christmas, you know, getting into this kind of situation," Traska said.
At some point, Traska hopes to get answers after filing multiple reports.
KDKA reached out to the attorney general and Facebook for comment but has not heard back at this time.
A spokesperson for Early Warning Services, LLC, the network provider of Zelle, provided KDKA with the following statement regarding potential reimbursement and policies when it comes to fraud:
In an effort to not tip off criminals, we do not share further intel on our reimbursement requirements, and given the dynamic nature of scams, we know they use many tactics to lure consumers. Zelle moves money directly into another enrolled recipient's bank account. Zelle doesn't guarantee protection for all authorized payments, so we recommend only using Zelle to pay people you know and trust.
The company also shared three tips for customers to avoid falling victim:
- Only send money to people you know and trust.
- Beware of payment scams – if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Treat Zelle like cash.
Clearview Federal Credit Union provided KDKA with the following statement:
When a member reports any type of fraudulent activity, Clearview's policy is to work closely with each member to report these incidents to Zelle. Additionally, we are committed to regularly educating our members through blog posts and emails about proactive measures to avoid such incidents and stay vigilant. If you don't know the person or aren't sure you will get what you paid for (for example, items bought from an online bidding or sales site), you should not use Zelle for these types of transactions. These transactions are potentially high risk (just like sending cash to a person you don't know is high risk).
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