Phone scammers are striking once again and this time with a new scheme. Authorities say it’s something we all need to watch out for.
Now instead of scammers asking people for checks or their credit card numbers, they’re asking for Green Dot Cards. They’re essentially a pre-paid debit card you can get from stores. While the cards do have legitimate uses, scammers are now finding a way to use them to their advantage.
One victim who fell for it says he wants to make sure no one else does.
Willie Whiley owns an auto repair shop in Bellevue. He spends most of his time working on the cars, while his wife handles the business side. It just happened that she was out of town a few weeks ago when he received a call.
“I had left to go out on a test drive for a customer's car. I got a phone call from one of the employees saying the people from the electric company were calling about the bill not being paid,” said Whiley.
Whiley called right back. The person on the phone said he needed to pay his electric bill of $497 dollars. They said he needed to go get a Green Dot card from WalMart and give them the number within the next 20 minutes, or the electricity to his shop would be shut off.
"I didn't have time to think, so I rushed back to WalMart and got the card, called and gave the guy the number.”
It turns out it was all a scam and he was out big money. "I was really kind of hurt because $500 for a small business, that really takes a chunk out of things."
Bellevue Police detective Fran Gallo says Whiley isn’t the only one. The number of cases is piling up as scammers come up with a wide range of stories, tricking people into using Green Dot cards. “They do this because tracing is very difficult,” said Gallo.
He hopes others will see this story and think twice. “Do not do it. Nobody is going to ask you to do it. No legitimate business is going to ask you to get a prepaid card and call them and give them the number.”
Gallo says the scammers purposely come up with stories so that people feel pressured and like they need to do what they say right then and there. It’s all part of the scheme though, so he says the best advice is to not act right away and consult with a family member or law enforcement before acting on anything.