Sharnai Skinner is proud of the eight years she spent defending her country, as underscored by the staff-sergeant insignia — four chevrons bracketing a star — tattooed on her left arm.
The Air Force veteran is anything but proud, however, of the manner in which she defended — or failed to defend — her finances.
“I’ve already accepted the fact that I just lost all my savings,” the 29-year-old Whitehall resident said. “And it hurts.”
Skinner’s recent financial blunder began with the best of intentions.
After receiving an honorable discharge from the Air Force last January, Skinner returned to civilian life in central Ohio and decided to pursue a college degree. She made arrangements to attend school full time, starting this month.
She figured she’d need a reliable car to get to and from classes — not to mention a part-time retail job.
While searching Craigslist in November, Skinner found what seemed to be the perfect vehicle: a 2003 Honda Accord with just 67,000 miles on it. The seller, she said, wanted $1,970.
The bargain price, though, wasn’t the only selling point. Skinner said the car’s owner indicated that she, too, had military ties.
“She said she was stationed in North Dakota and that she was deploying in December.”
Skinner felt an instant bond.
“I thought: ‘She’s not going to scam me. She wouldn’t do that. We’re together in this.’ ”
Emboldened by the apparent connection, Skinner took the plunge.
“I said, ‘Great, I think we have a deal,’ and I said, ‘How did you want me to pay for it — so I can see it?’ ”
Skinner received an email — purportedly sent by eBay Motors, the automotive division of online marketplace eBay — instructing her to wire the funds via Western Union.