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Piedmont woman warns of online scam ahead of holidays

ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- At first, Jane Zilles didn't notice anything strange about a LinkedIn message she received from a friend. It contained a link to a "secret shopper" sign-up and a personal message.

"She said 'I thought you'd be interested in this,'" Zilles recalled. "I was, I thought it might be a cool thing to do."

Zilles clicked the link and filled out the survey that followed. It was a few days later, when she received a package from the "company" in the mail, that she realized something was off.

The package included a letter of instructions and a check written to Zilles for $3,550. The letter instructed Zilles to deposit the check in her bank account, buy thousands of dollars worth of Walmart gift cards, then send the pin numbers back through email to the company. Zilles's reward would be the remaining $150, but she's certain that would have bounced, right along with the rest of the money.

"I look at myself as a pretty educated woman, I've been in business for 40 years and I fell into this, I filled out the survey," Zilles said.

By sharing her story, Zilles said she hopes others won't make the same mistake.