Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the News4 I-Team's Chief Investigative Reporter. He has won multiple Midsouth Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Awards.

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - For Dennis Craig of Hohenwald, Tenn., it cost him $2,030.

For a woman in Rock Hill, S.C., the price was higher: $160,000.

Both had their bank accounts drained after they started following celebrities on social media.

The News4 I-Team found scammers are creating nearly identical or ghost Twitter accounts to mirror celebrities’ profiles.

“You just feel used,” Craig said.

Using those fake accounts, the scammers follow the real celebrities’ fans, so it appears the celebrity is in fact following the fan.

Craig was excited when he saw Tim McGraw’s profile was following him and was blown away when he got a direct message.

Scammer inquires about job status

“He asked how I was doing," Craig said. "I told him that I just recently lost my job. He asked how can he help me."

Scammer asks how he can be helpful

Citing McGraw’s philanthropic work, Craig said he wasn’t surprised at the gesture.

“You must have thought, this really can't be Tim McGraw?” asked the News4 I-Team.

“I thought there was a chance of it. My wife says one of my biggest faults is that I'm too trusting,” Craig said.

Using a classic scam, the profile of McGraw then offered to send a check to help, and that all Craig had to do was deposit it and in turn send a portion of that money to someone else.

As soon as the scammer got access to Craig’s account, he wiped it out.

A police report from Rock Hill, S.C., shows last month a woman told investigators her sister’s bank account was drained $160,000 after she thought she was communicating with country star Dierks Bentley on Twitter.

The victim and her sister’s name were redacted on the report.

Craig showed the News4 I-Team the fake account that contacted him, and how it looks nearly identical to McGraw’s real account.

In fact, when we clicked on tweets from the fake account, it took us to actual tweets from McGraw.

That fake account has since been suspended by Twitter, and Craig has filed a police report. Astoundingly, Craig said the scammer continues to reach out to him.

Working with Craig, the News4 I-Team set up a call with the scammer.

Immediately upon calling, it was clear the scammer has a middle-eastern accent, but it also appeared that the scammer was using some kind of computer software to repeat certain phrases, such as, “I hope you are good,” and “Worried about you.”

When the News4 I-Team got on the line and said that we were going to expose the scam and broadcast the scammer’s voice, he replied, “Not my problem.”

The I-Team pointed out that Craig was going to use his experience to help other people from becoming the scammer’s victim.

“No, it’s not like that,” the scammer said.

We happily hung up on him.

Not long after Craig got the message from the fake McGraw, he got a message from an account claiming to be George Strait.

This time, Craig did not respond.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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