Sometimes doing an altruistic deed can leave with you a warm feeling, but other times you walk away with the sinking realization that you’ve been scammed. That’s what happened to TikToker Ariana Tomlinson (@arianatomlinson2323) when a woman scammed her at Target.
This isn’t Ariana’s first viral video on the platform but for this harrowing three-part series in which she details how a woman allegedly preyed on her good nature, the creator decided to turn off the comments.
In the first video, viewed over 4.2 million times, Ariana begins her tale: “The most insane thing that I have ever experienced happened at Target. This lady was in the aisles, and she asked my boyfriend if he could buy her baby formula. And he came up to me and was like, ‘hey this lady asking me for baby formula. I’m gonna go help her out.’
apparently this scam is very popular i cant believe i fell for it♬ original sound – arianatomlinson23
Ariana continues, “I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll help her too…’ This lady has an entire basket full of formula. Me and him don’t have kids or anything. So we’re not really aware of the prices of formula. It was like 5 cans. And we thought it would be a little pricey but nothing crazy.”
As the scammer explains her situation to the young woman and her boyfriend, she continues to load her Target cart with more and more supplies.
When they get to the self-checkout the woman’s sob story continues. By now, the TikToker is beginning to realize that her small act of kindness was not adding up. “The numbers are getting pretty high, and she’s trying to distract me,” Ariana says.
Ariana’s voice begins to pick up speed as she continues her story. The woman then gives Ariana her phone number to supposedly pay her back. The TikToker admits, “I let her do it because I see the number and I’m like I cannot afford this…I call it and she goes, ‘oh I got it’. Her phone did not light up, it did not ring, there wasn’t a sound or vibration nothing. That should have been a red flag to me. I look over it’s 800 dollars.”
Ariana swipes her card. “My boyfriend is looking like he just saw a ghost,” she says. “But we didn’t wanna seem like assholes and be like never mind put it all back, so we pay for it.”
But while Ariana is removing the receipt she begins to realize that she’s being scammed and that the woman is going to return the items to Target for cash or store credit. Panicking, the couple gets the receipt back from the woman, but they don’t confront her directly. Instead, they go to customer service to ask how they should proceed.
As they are relaying their story to the store manager, Ariana notices a second woman returning a cart full of baby supplies next to them. This woman closely resembles their scammer, speaks the same language, and seems to be listening closely to what they are saying.
The story continues in Ariana’s second video which has 1.4 million views.
@arianatomlinson2323 Replying to @sab ♬ original sound – arianatomlinson23
The Target manager tells the couple that there is nothing the store can do without the actual items in question. The dejected couple heads to the parking lot but as luck would have it, Ariana sees the second woman, who was returning items at customer service, climb into a silver car.
Even though the car did not contain the original scammer, Ariana felt that the coincidences were too many to ignore. “So I pull up right next to her…and she definitely saw me but I took a picture of her license plate.”
Ariana also decides she’s going to follow the second woman. But as they get to the main road, the couple notices a similar car, in gold, that’s pulling out of the parking lot at the same time.
Ariana claims that as the gold car speeds off, the woman in the silver car blocks her way and prevents the TikToker from pursuing the suspected Target scammer. But with some quick maneuvering, Ariana manages to ditch the silver car and catch up to the gold one. After a short chase that leads them onto a highway, Ariana says the woman finally puts on her hazard lights and pulls over onto the shoulder.
@arianatomlinson2323 Replying to @Sara Michelle ♬ original sound – arianatomlinson23
Ariana finishes her story in the third video of the series, which has 1.1 million views. The TikToker says she and her boyfriend were just planning to ask the woman for the stuff back and explain that they couldn’t afford the $800 worth of goods they had offered to pay for.
But before any words are exchanged, the woman rolls down her window and tosses out a large Target bag before speeding off. Ariana’s boyfriend retrieves the bag and they go back to Target where the manager kindly allows them to return all the items for cash.
“So we got the money back and everything but it was terrifying,” Ariana says and concludes her saga with a warning. “If anybody asks you to buy baby stuff, don’t do it.”
The Daily Dot reached out to Ariana via TikTok messages.