MESA, Ariz. -- Tina Blandford has a bad back and thought moving to Arizona from the East Coast might do her some good.
"Because of my health issues, I wanted to live somewhere that was warmer year-round," she said.
Blandford has lived on a small pension since moving to the sunny state a few months ago and recently found herself in a financial mess.
She looked to the Internet for solutions, logging onto a search engine and punching in the words, "fast cash."
"I said to myself, 'Let me try for a payday loan.' That way I can get, you know, my bills caught up and I won't be behind."
Blandford said she applied for numerous loans on several different websites. While most of the lending companies would only loan her a small amount, one offered her $5,000.
A so-called lender, who had a thick foreign accent, left a promising voicemail on Blandford's phone.
"The funds will be successfully transferring to your checking account within the next 30 days," he said.
Blandford was thrilled.
However, to receive that loan, she had to show the lender she had some money available. Blandford was told to come up with a 10 percent down payment of $500.
Blandford, completely out of cash, turned to her mother in New York for help. Her mother agreed to send the money to the loan officer.
But once the lender received the cash, he started demanding more.
Blandford said the loan company didn't want the money wired. Instead, it requested the transaction be made through a Green Dot MoneyPak Card.
With MoneyPak cards, the person giving the money provides the recipient with the code printed on the back.The recipient can then access however much money has been loaded onto the card.
Blandford said her mom used the Green Dot MoneyPak card to send another $440 to the lender to cover fees.
The company still wanted more money, and Blanford's mom ended up giving the lender $1,380 to obtain the $5,000 loan, according to Blandford.
When the lender asked for more money yet again, Blandford knew she and her mother had been scammed.
"I was crying," Blandford said. "I was in pain, more than usual. It was awful."
Not only did the scam leave Blandford more emotionally distressed, it left her mom out nearly $1,400.
Blandford said her story is a cautionary tale for other people struggling financially and thinking of turning to the Internet for loans.
"I mean, I thought they were a credible company until the last $440 they asked for," she said.
3 On Your Side advises consumers to avoid Internet loans entirely.
Those Internet loan websites usually ask for your date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information, and you don't know who is actually receiving it.
Also, use Green Dot MoneyPak Cards with caution, 3 On Your Side says. Although they are legitimate cards, they are frequently used by scammers.