I am a single mother of three adult children, and grandmother of two. I have been out of work for a little over 2 years now, because of PTSD and all the mental health issues that accompany it. I am now on a very limited fixed income through disability, and recently one of my daughters and her son have moved back in with me with no income of their own. I am usually the helper, not the helpee. I have always been extremely independent, so asking for help is very hard for me. When I went on disability, I had a very lucrative job, and had managed a substantial savings, but that is gone now. Also, when I went on disability, I had to relocate to another state, because I thought being closer to family would be better, but it had been 20+ years since being “home”. After being gone for that long, I knew no one, and made new friends. I have learned the hard way now not all people are good. Most of my savings went to helping others in need to later find I was being scammed.
In January 2022, I opened my home up to a woman in need. I thought she was in the same situation I was in. I knew what it was like to struggle on my own, and I was happy to help someone maybe not have as hard of a time getting on her feet as I had in the past. This other person prayed on my kindness and made out like a bandit. She was gone by the end of May, and most of my stuff was too. She took money, clothes, jewelry, electronics, appliances; she took whatever she could or whatever she wanted, and in the end there was nothing I could do about it, because, ultimately, I opened my door to her and allowed it. As incredibly painful, humiliating, and enraging the situation was, I knew it was my fault for trusting and giving. I had no one to blame but myself, so I sucked it up and kept going. I replaced what I needed to, got over the rest, and put it behind me.
A few months later, in July, I was taking another friend out of state to start a new job. About 120 miles from home, my ac in my car started to blow hot air. I am in the south. That can not happen. With the heat index, it was over 100 degrees outside, and simply rolling the windows down would not do it. I managed to get back home, but my car was done. My air compressor locked up, so it couldn’t cool the car, but, also, my main belt for my car runs through the compressor’s pulley system. This means, when I turned my car off, it eventually just wouldn’t start anymore. I knew the repair would be expensive, but this is the only vehicle I have, and my daughter, 3-year-old grandson, and I are all dependent on it.
I scheduled the repair with the dealership and figured out how to get it there. I had done my research and known the repair was going to cost me around $2000. I had $2700 left in savings. This situation was certainly not ideal, but it was doable. The following day, the dealership called me and told me that my motor was locked up and sent me an estimate for $43, 608.64. Y’all, I about died! I can buy 2 or more brand new cars for that! I told the service writer there was no way that could be a correct cost to repair my engine, but, also, I seriously doubted my engine needed a replacement. I explained the main belt and compressor situation, had a friend go to the dealership and show them how to start my car, and they reassessed it and sent me a new estimate for $1,901.82. Much better! I approved the request, and the car was going to be repaired within a week. A week with a small child and no car for an entire family is rough, but manageable. I was grateful I had the funds to cover the repair, even if it was going to take most of the savings I had left.
That evening, I was explaining my situation to another “friend”, simply over conversation. He told me he could fix it for much cheaper than the dealership. At first I told him no, that I didn’t want to bother him with the repair, but he convinced me to let him do it to help me save some money. The next day, I called and canceled the repair. He went and picked up my car with a trailer, and he took it to his shop for the repair. He told me it would probably cost me about $600-700 for everything and he would only have it 3-5 days, depending on parts.
After a few days, I contacted him about getting an update on a timeframe. He told me the parts had just arrived at his shop, so about two days he’d have it back to me. Five days passed. I called him again, he apologized, said something had come up, he had to go out of town, and told me to get a rental for a few days, and he would reimburse me for it. I did not do that right away, but I did eventually get one. Almost three weeks had passed, and I called him again. I couldn’t get him on the phone, text messages, Facebook Messenger, not even going to his house. He would respond with very vague replies in the middle of the night of “just a few more days”, “sorry, I am going to cover you though”, or “Monday”, if there were any responses at all. This man did not borrow a movie or a couple of bucks without returning it. He had my car!
Sixty–three days later…. Yes, you read that correctly…. I finally got my car back. All of my savings are gone from having to get a rental car, and my daughter having to have her wisdom teeth removed. My car still has no AC. Somehow the compressor is bypassed, so it runs, but it sounds horrible. It was returned to me in the middle of the night and left in my driveway, the tires were all low, all my warning lights are lit on my dashboard because it needs to be reset with a computer, my gaslight was on and it was blinking “zero miles until empty”, and my car is filthy inside and out. If I would have approached him about doing me a favor, these things would still have been unacceptable, but he convinced me to let him “help”.
Now, my savings are completely gone, my fixed income barely pays the bills for 3, and I still have the $1901.82 repair, I need new tires, and I also need 2022 behind me, and my faith in humanity restored. I am not accustomed to asking for help. I am not even very good at accepting unsolicited help (case in point above), but I don’t know what else to do. I make an attempt at supplementing my income selling crafts I make, but my crafts do not bring in that much. I, as well as my family, will be so thankful for even the smallest of donations. Every little bit can get us closer to the total. Even if you can’t donate, but you come across my story, and have been in a similar situation, I hope it makes you feel better. You are not the only one that has fallen prey to these types of people. I know after my first incident at the beginning of the year; I was feeling pretty low and beating myself up for falling for her scam, but two in one year! Thank you for taking the time to read my story, and please, heed some caution when helping (practically) stranger.