Beware of Green Dot MoneyPak scams

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by Meredith Yeomans

azfamily.com

Posted on April 11, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 11 at 10:01 PM

MESA, Ariz. -- Marilyn Ehlers, 75, was playing games on her laptop when she got a phone call recently from someone saying she had won $5 million.

"He said there's a man about 20 minutes away from you who's going to be delivering this check," she recalled.

But before Ehlers could collect all that money, the person on the phone said she had to pay $350.

She was supposed to load the money onto something called a Green Dot MoneyPak card which is a pre-paid debit card. However, a MoneyPak card can be cash for a thief. All they need to access the money is the number on the back of the card.

The man who called Ehlers says after she put $350 on the card she was supposed to give him that number.

Ehlers says she knew something wasn't right. “You buy the card, you scratch off the number and then you give me the number and I said well this sounds like a scam! You're going to have my money and I'm getting nothing,” she said.

The maker of the Green Dot MoneyPak card is aware the cards are a weapon of choice for scammers. In fact, there's a fraud alert on the back warning consumers.

The Yuma County Sheriff's Office is also alerting people after receiving an increase in complaints from people like Ehlers, who con men hope to make a quick buck off of.

“When you think about how many people he's already scammed into doing that, I mean, a lot of people my age would fall for it,” she said.

Felicia Thompson with the Arizona Better Business Bureau says scams involving MoneyPak cards have been around for years, but that the stories scammers use often vary.

To avoid being taken, Thompson says consumers who use MoneyPak cards should treat them like cash.

“It's not a credit card; it's a prepaid card so you want to treat it like cash and knowing that when you hand over that number, you're handing over cash to a stranger,” Thompson said.

Ehlers says she hopes no one falls for the scam.

“Bottom line is people, listen, don't buy. Don't fall into the trap,” she said.

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