CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — A 22-year-old South Jersey YouTuber is accused of orchestrating a $1.5 million fraud scheme. Authorities say she pulled it off by using social media to find her victims.
Kayla Massa has a huge social media presence with more than 300,000 Instagram followers.
Prosecutors believe she preyed on dozens of her followers to scam them out of thousands of dollars each.
In one of her videos, Massa tells her 100,000 YouTube followers how to make money selling used clothing.
But federal prosecutors say Massa had a much more lucrative scheme that involved posting on Instagram to lure victims.
One post reads: “If you’re from South Jersey, have a bank account and trying to make some quick easy money, direct message me.”
Once Massa received the bank account info from a victim, she said she’d pay them a few hundred dollars.
Instead, authorities say Massa blocked the victims online while she deposited bogus checks made in the names of real businesses and then quickly withdrew the cash.
One of the businesses targeted was Factory Tune Auto Repairs in Monroe Township. Don Ford exclusively showed Eyewitness News the counterfeit checks made out in its name.
“They don’t look anything like my check,” Ford said. “I was shocked because one of them wasn’t even signed.”
Factory Tune lost $15,000 in the scheme but was later able to recover that money.
Other businesses ripped off include Joel’s Auto Technology in Glassboro, Goodie’s Automotive in Woodbury Heights, Woodbury Nissan and Nissan of Turnersville.
Authorities say, in all, $1.5 million was taken from individuals and businesses over a year-and-a-half.
“It’s an old-fashioned money scheme. It’s not technology. It’s someone who made up false checks and passed them along,” Ford said.
Officials also say Massa and nine accomplices bought expensive clothing and luxury vehicles with the money and bragged about the purchases online.
Authorities say all defendants appeared in court last week.