CHARLOTTE, N.C.— She thought it was her dream job, but it turned into a nightmare.
“I thought it was the opportunity of a lifetime,” explained Charlotte media darling, Brittney Cason, “ it was humiliating.” In September, Cason was working in sports talk radio at WFNZ The Fan. She said a man, who claimed to handle talent acquisition for a production company, contacted her about a gig during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
In a piece the 33-year-old penned for XOJane.com, she explained the man’s credentials appeared to check out just fine. So she began the nearly three month application process. Cason provided him several videos of her television and hosting work, along with audio reels of her jobs in Charlotte radio.
“That’s what so scary,” she recalled, “the amount of effort he put into making this seem legit. I rearranged my whole life, my suitcase was packed. I had adapters, I bought new coats, everything.”
The former Panthers cheerleader said the fact another Charlotte-based sports personality had been recruited made her feel better. She admitted the man was slow to answer questions, but said she initially ignored her intuition because it was a great opportunity.
That is, until a couple weeks before the games began, she noted the recruiter had an odd request.
“He asked me if I knew any other girls who would want to go to Sochi,” explained Cason, “When he wanted my friends’ VISA information, her passport information and social security number, before even seeing her reel—I thought, ‘OK, red flag!’ That is not normal.”
Cason said she and the other woman recruited to go to Russia, who wishes to remain anonymous, began looking further into the man’s claims and discovered the Sochi job was a scam. They contacted the FBI.
A FBI spokeswoman told NBC Charlotte the FBI does not comment on investigations, and could neither confirm nor deny the case. Cason said investigators are still trying to determine the recruiter’s motives.
In the meantime, she is partnering with Charlotte based anti-Human Trafficking organization All We Want Is L.O.V.E. to raise awareness. Regardless of what investigators find, Cason said this scare opened her eyes to just how easy it is for someone to prey upon another person.
Ashley Harkrader, with All We Want Is L.O.V.E., said Charlotte ranks sixth in the nation in trafficking. She added that women telling their personal stories helps victims and potential victims know it is ok.
“You hear my experience and now you hear Brittney’s story, so you see it does happen here and there’s no boundaries,” said Harkrader.