Scam alert for Midwest.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving the Kansas Plains, Nebraska, South Dakota and southwest Iowa is warning consumers that online thieves have found a new method of siphoning cash from them: Green Dot MoneyPaks. MoneyPaks, which are sold in stores throughout the U.S., are reloadable debit cards normally used to make same-day payments or add money to prepaid cards or PayPal accounts. Recently, BBBs throughout the U.S have noted a significant increase in schemes where scammers either tried to solicit – or were able to collect – payments via MoneyPak for merchandise, advance fee loans or sweepstakes prizes that all proved to be fraudulent or nonexistent.
Yesterday an 89 year old man from Mitchell, SD, contacted BBB after receiving a phone call from “Antonio Richmond”. It came from (876) 528-218, a Jamaica area code. The caller spoke with an accent and told him that had won a drawing through Bank of America. This seemed believable because the consumer has a Bank of America credit card.
Originally, the victim was told that he had won $120,000. However, after divulging that he is a Bank of America customer, he was informed that he actually had won $8 million. “Antonio” told the man that he would travel by car with a U.S. Marshall, an attorney, and an FBI agent to deliver his money to his home in Mitchell, SD. The caller insisted that this was not a scam and asked the man to put $325.00 on a Green Dot MoneyPak card as insurance to protect his winnings.
The man purchased his MoneyPak card at a local Walgreens. Subsequently, he received another call asking for the numbers on the MoneyPak to verify his purchase. After providing the card numbers, the caller told him to keep the card in a safe place and assured him that the money was on the card.
Throughout the week, the elderly consumer received up to four phone calls a day. One call was from “an immigration officer” informing him that “Antonio Richmond” was being held in custody. Again, the senior citizen was asked to load $325 onto a Green Dot MoneyPak card. In yet another phone call, “Billy Craig” the “U.S. Marshall from Immigration Services”, called the man from another Jamaican phone number, (876) 441-0922. In this conversation, plans were developed for the delivery of the $8 million on November 6th. However, the man was concerned that his bank may not be open due to the election so the delivery was postponed to November 7th.
Early on the 7th, the man received a call telling him they were eight miles from Mitchell, that they would stop at his home and then go with him to his bank to deposit the money. After waiting for this delivery, which had not come, the man attempted to call all of the Jamaican phone numbers and was unable to reach anyone. He became suspicious and called the BBB and his local police department.
“BBB is noticing that more and more scammers are moving away from seeking payments via wire transfer. Instead, they are asking consumers to give them money via MoneyPaks because this form of payment is quite convenient – for both consumers and scammers – and untraceable.” said Jim Hegarty, BBB president.
The BBB warns consumers that any unsolicited request for payment via a MoneyPak is a huge red flag. People need to understand that once they load a MoneyPak with funds, anyone they share the number of that card with will also have access to those funds,” stated Hegarty.
To avoid falling for MoneyPak scams, consumers should:
* Remember that if you’re told you have pay to a fee – via MoneyPak or wire transfer - to collect a cash prize or sweepstakes winnings, you haven’t won anything.
*Be wary of websites or Craigslist advertisements linking to websites where customers are asked to pay with a MoneyPak card.
* Never give their MoneyPak number to someone they don't know.
* Beware of websites requesting MoneyPak as a form of payment even if they display the MoneyPak or Green Dot logo. Consumers should check at www.moneypak.com for a list of approved MoneyPak partners.
* Treat MoneyPak cards like cash - transactions cannot be reversed.