Social media scam with Fresno City Hall at its center

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A six-figure offer from a Facebook account that belonged to Fresno's Chief Assistant City Attorney sounded too good to be true -- and it was. (KFSN)

A six-figure offer from a Facebook account that belonged to Fresno's Chief Assistant City Attorney sounded too good to be true -- and it was.

Several of Francine Kanne's Facebook friends got suckered into giving up personal information. Some came close to giving away their money.

Kanne works on the second floor at Fresno's City Hall and she's fairly well known in the community. A lot of her Facebook friends would say she's trustworthy. So, when she started offering them money, they had no inkling it wasn't legit.

Kanne reveals her love for dogs on an active Facebook page, and not much else. She had another account, and it was dormant for two years, but came back from the dead to haunt her friends this year.

Action News uncovered a search warrant revealing a squatter took over the old account and reached out to her contacts offering a $100,000 grant. Several of them bought in, asking the fake Francine if they were on the reward list.

"And then (the squatter would) answer back and say 'Congratulations, your name is on the list. Now I need some personal information from you,'" said Fresno police detective Martin Van Overbeek.

The squatter asked for names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and even salaries. Several people obliged. Then came the old scammer's trick: To get your $100,000, you needed to send in a few hundred bucks.

Detectives say nobody actually paid up, but a few elderly folks tried to scrape the money together before giving up.

One of Kanne's friends realized the offer was fake and pretty soon Van Overbeek was tracking down the scammer. But like the phony prince who needed cash to get his inheritance, the account originated in Nigeria.

"I don't think it's a prince. I don't think he would need to scam people in the U.S.," said the detective.

The Central California Better Business Bureau has gotten several reports of Facebook phishing in the last few months. Bottom line, they say, check the source.

"If I had a friend on Facebook who told me they had $100,000 grant for the Better Business Bureau, I wouldn't be responding to them on Facebook," said BBB CEO Blair Looney. "I'd be picking up the phone and calling them."

The BBB also offers a scam tracker online where you can see tricks like this that are going around.

Kanne's old Facebook account is now officially terminated.

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