Sandusky woman wires $1,350 in Facebook fraud

SANDUSKY When Marilyn Smith of Sandusky got a message on Facebook that one of her friends was strand
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

When Marilyn Smith of Sandusky got a message on Facebook that one of her friends was stranded in Great Britain and needed help, she responded like a true friend.

She used Western Union and wired $1,350 across the ocean to help Kimberly Lewallen, 33, Huron, an employee at the Ohio Veteran's Home.

Then Smith, 57, talked to her daughter, Meredith Holman, 33, and got a further bit of news. Lewallen was safe at home in Ohio. But Lewallen had a problem: Somebody had hacked into her Facebook account and was pretending to be her.

The incident is causing considerable trouble for Lewallen and her friends, but it has a silver lining. Smith is getting her money back, and Lewallen knows she has a true friend.

"She's awesome," Lewallen said of Smith on Tuesday. "She's actually the mother of one of my college friends. I was like, 'Oh, I love you'."

Smith told Sandusky police that Western Union refunded all but $92 of her money. The company asked Smith to file a police report to get the remaining amount, which it called a transfer fee.

Lewallen said she has filed a report with the Erie County Sheriff's office. Authorities have a considerable amount of information about the suspect, including the text of e-mails between the fake Lewallen and Lewallen's friends, and the address where the money was sent.

Lewallen said she doesn't know how her account was hacked but believes something may have happened when she tried to click on a link to a video. Lewallen has had to temporarily shut down her account on Facebook, a popular Internet site used by friends to stay in touch with each other.

Facebook's security section warns that users have to be careful.

"Remember that although using fake names is a violation of the Facebook Terms of Use, people are not always who they say they are," it says.