July 3, 2014 at 12:04 PM
Montgomery Township Police is working on putting a stop to residents getting bilked of money through a nationwide Green Dot Money Pak card phone scam, as more than $15,000 has already been extorted locally.
Police said the extortion scam has occurred nationwide, but has now hit home. In recent months, residents have had thousands extorted through the method.
Utility companies, according to Montgomery Township Police, and government agencies will not contact customers or taxpayers demanding immediate payment by Green Dot Money Pak.
Green Dot Money Pak Cards, police said, are legitimate products that can be purchased at a retailer with cash.
The Green Dot Money Pak Cards can then be used to reload other prepaid cards, add money to a PayPal account or make same-day payments to major companies, police said.
Scammers have now found a way to use these cards to steal money from unsuspecting victims.
Montgomery Township Police Lt. Gerry Dougherty shared two examples of how the phone scam works:
A scammer calls a victim claiming to be a representative of a government agency, such as the IRS or a representative of a utility company. The scammer demands payment for back taxes owed or a past due utility bill. If payment is not received, they then threaten that the victim will either be arrested or have their utilities turned off.
To avoid this, scammers instruct the victim to purchase Green Dot Money Pak Cards in a specific amount, usually several thousand dollars. The victim is also provided a phone number to call after purchasing the Green Dot Money Pak Cards. When the victim calls the phone number, they are told to scratch off and read the Green Dot Money Pak Card serial numbers on the cards to the scammer.
Once the scammer has the Green Dot Money Pak Card serial numbers, they are able to transfer the funds from that card onto a prepaid debit card. The victim has now lost their money.
The victim receives a phone call from a scammer saying that a member of the victim’s family has been arrested and needs bail money or has been in an accident and needs money for medical treatment. The scammers are very creative and can use any number of ways to try and convince you to purchase the Green Dot Money Pak Cards and reveal the serial numbers to them.
Here are tips to prevent becoming a victim:
- Be suspicious of anyone who calls you demanding immediate payment for any reason.
- Remember that anyone who has the scratch off serial number on a Green Dot Money Pak Card has access to the funds on that card.
- Never give out personal or financial information to anyone who emails or calls you unsolicited.
- Never wire money, provide debit or credit cards numbers or Green Dot Money Pak Card numbers to someone that you do not know and trust.
Call Montgomery Township Police at 215-362-2301 if you feel as though you have been a victim of a scam.