AVONDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- When an Avondale couple was recently ripped off, they say it hurt them financially. Our team at 3 On Your Side was hoping the debit card company might make things right for them, but in the end, it was an anonymous good Samaritan.

Pete Cruz doesn't know it now, but 3 On Your Side is about to deliver him and his fiancee Celia Armour really good news.

But before we get to that, you have to understand their initial problem.

In a previous 3 On Your Side report, Cruz explained that as a truck driver, he's constantly on the road. And during a recent visit to an out of state truck stop, he says he was scammed out of $300.

He says it all happened when he was inside the truck stop, bought a MoneyPak Green Dot card and then loaded the card with $300. 

The card is frequently used by consumers to forward money to loved ones. And, in this case, Cruz was trying to forward $300 to Armour. But just as soon as he put money on the card, a scammer stole it all. 

"Ten minutes later she calls me back and says the money's gone," said Cruz. "'What do you mean it's gone?' She says it's gone. She said, 'it's gone already.' And I said, 'how can that be?'" 

MoneyPak Green Dot cards work by loading cash on to the card and then scratching off the bar code on the back to expose a series of numbers. Once a person has those numbers, it allows access to money found on the card.

Cruz forwarded the code to Armour, but before she could access it a scammer intercepted that $300 cash first, meaning the couple was out all that money.

As a result, they say they've had a difficult time making ends meet.

"We've been out of this money for a few weeks now; it's had a toll on us."

The night, when that story aired, a 3 On Your Side viewer was watching.

"I'm a firm believer that we really need to help each other; we need to take care of each other."

He didn’t want us to reveal his identity, but he told us he wanted to help Cruz and Armour out by giving the couple his own money, $300. So, he gave it to us to give to them.

“He said he put $300 on the card so I wanted to give him $300. Three hundred bucks, three Ben Franklins," the anonymous giver said. "It's just money; it's just money."

And with that money, we went to Cruz and Armour’s West Valley home with a little surprise.

HARPER: “This is from a viewer.”

Armour: “Oh my God, are you serious?”

HARPER: “And he does not know you and you don't know him but he saw your story and he wanted to see if he could make things right for you guys.”

Armour: “That's crazy." 

At first, the couple was speechless. And then, after opening the envelope and getting to cash inside, reality finally set in.

Armour: “Wow!”

Cruz: “That makes me feel very good.”

HARPER: “What do you think about that Celia?”

Armour: "I'm shocked, I didn't expect that." 

Cruz and Armour say their trust has been restored. And they say it only happened because of a good Samaritan and a 3 On Your Side report.

HARPER: "What are your thoughts about 3 On Your Side too because this guy?”

Armour: "I always see your stories and stuff and you guys make miracles happen. A lot of it, you know, is just great. I don't even know what to say. It's just great."

A big thank you to that good Samaritan.

And by the way, MoneyPak Green Dot never did tell us how that scammer was able to intercept and steal that money. 


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


3 On Your Side Investigative Producer

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(2) comments


It was an inside job. The cashier where the guy got the monepak card was in on it. He scratched off the numbers and then put silver tape back over the numbers. As soon as the card was sold, the cashier contacted their friend who immediately pulled the money out of the card. Gone in 60 seconds.


This is the first time I've heard of scammers stealing cash placed on a MoneyPak card without needing the 14 digit validation pin. We keep a record of MoneyPak scams https://reloadpacks.com/reload-scams/ so the public are aware of the different types of method scammers use. Thanks for sharing! I've also shared this on our Facebook page. We are glad they were able to recoup the money.

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