People are losing thousands of dollars in a phone scam involving GreenDot MoneyPak.
How the scam works:
These crimes are usually perpetrated via telephone. Scammers represent themselves as bill collectors for utilities (predominantly DWP, but also as collectors for the IRS, citations, etc.) and request that the victim
purchase a pre-paid re-loadable debit card (Green Dot/Money Pak, but also Visa, MasterCard, Vanilla Card, etc.) for the specific amount of the bill charge and threaten that the victim’s utilities will be shut off
immediately, or the citation will go to warrant, etc., if the victim does not do so. The victim is then instructed to call the scammer back with the PIN (account number) to that card. Once the scammer has the PIN, he is
able to transfer the funds to any other credit card – essentially a convenient and untraceable method of transferring money. The victim is left no recourse.
GreenDot/MoneyPaks themselves are legitimate products when used for the right purposes.
Utility Company Scam:
The victims are contacted by a caller who states that they work for a Utility Company and are collecting money that is past due. The caller informs the victim that they can avoid having their utility service disconnected if they immediately pay the past due amount using a GreenDot/MoneyPak that can be purchased at a local store. The caller instructs the victim to purchase a GreenDot/MoneyPak in a specified amount and provides the victim with a phone number to be called back when the GreenDot/MoneyPak has been obtained. The victim purchases a GreenDot/MoneyPak at a local store and proceeds to call back the number they were given. The victim is instructed to scratch off and read the GreenDot/MoneyPak card serial number to the perpetrator. Once the scammer has the GreenDot/MoneyPak serial number they are able to transfer funds onto a prepaid debit card. The victim has now lost their money.
Internal Revenue Service Scam:
The victims receive a call and are told that they owe back taxes, fees or fines to the I.R.S. and that if they do not make an immediate payment using a GreenDot/MoneyPak they will be arrested or deported. This scam is perpetrated in the same manner as the utility scam. The results are also the same, the victim’s money is stolen.
GreenDot/MoneyPaks themselves are legitimate products when used for the right purposes. Once purchased at a participating retailer with cash, consumers can use GreenDot/MoneyPak to reload other prepaid cards, add money to a PayPal account without using a bank account, or make same-day payments to major companies. Because the cards can only be bought with cash, consumers never need to disclose their personal or financial information to a retail cashier or to make a payment.
While many schemes still involve scammers asking for funds to be wired to them, GreenDot/MoneyPaks have the added benefit of the scammer not having to show up at an office to claim the funds. Anyone with the 14-digit number found on the back of the GreenDot/MoneyPak can drain the card of funds. In all of these examples, the intended victims are instructed to buy a GreenDot/MoneyPak, load the amount of the fine or other money owed onto the card and then provide the number on the back of the card to the scammers, who will then drain the funds from the card.
CRIME PREVENTION TIPS TO HELP YOU AVOID FALLING VICTIM TO THIS SCAM:
- Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payment for any reason.
- Remember that anyone who has the number on a GreenDot/MoneyPak has access to the funds on the card.
- Never give out personal or financial information to anyone who emails or calls you unsolicited.
- Never wire money, provide debit or credit card numbers or Green Dot/MoneyPak numbers to someone you do not know.
- Utility companies and government agencies will not contact you demanding immediate payment by GreenDot/MoneyPak
- Scammers sometimes send false IRS emails to victims before calling them to scam them. If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.