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Online nanny scam costs college student thousands

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BATON ROUGE - A woman answered an online ad for a nanny job but it turned out to be a scam. Now she's in debt. Lundin Bellow contacted 2 On Your Side to warn others about the red flags she missed so they don't end up in the same situation.

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"I was like, what in the hell am I going to do?" Bellow said.

Right now, she's not sure. Bellow is out nearly $5,000 after cashing fraudulent checks sent to her by the person she thought was her new employer.

Bellow answered an online ad for a sitting job watching a 4-year-old girl after school. She was interviewed over email by a woman named Ann Margaret Taylor who said she was relocating from Brooklyn, New York to work as a nurse at Baton Rouge General. In addition to watching her daughter the employer would need some assistance getting settled. Soon after, the checks started coming in.

The checks were delivered via FedEx from an address in Dallas, Texas.

"She was like, I need you to buy household supplies, appliances, cleaning supplies, and I'm sending you your first week's pay up front," Bellow explained.

Two of the checks were deposited into Bellow's Hancock Whitney bank account. The name on the checks read "Prime Home Health," an actual business in Brooklyn, New York. Bellow was asked to transfer $500 to one account and send the remaining $2,710 to another account via Zelle. The money was for rent, groceries, and other supplies. She sent other funds from the deposited checks to various Venmo accounts.

Bellow says she never questioned sending the funds to various accounts because she thought it was part of the job description.

A few days later, Hancock Whitney called.

"She was like, 'these checks are fraudulent' and I was like, 'what does that mean?' And they were like they're fake checks and I was like, 'what does that mean?'" Bellow said.

It means she spent money she didn't have. And for a college student who had just signed a new lease, it was a lot.

She contacted Prime Home Health. The company confirmed the checks were fraudulent and that they had been receiving calls about it for several weeks. They told Bellow there was nothing they could do.

The bank is now holding her feet to the fire.

"They were like, you either pay this money back or we're sending you to collections," Bellow said.

While she's thankful she found out about the fraudulent checks before she deposited a third one, she fears there's no recourse for what she's gotten herself into. She has since tried contacting Ann Margaret Taylor and has been blocked.

Bellow has filed a police report. Hancock Whitney says it cannot comment on private client matters.

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