State warns scammers using new method to steal

Published 6:23 pm Monday, February 20, 2012

According to Debbie S. Brantley of the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services, con artists are using a new payment method, combined with old scams, to cheat North Carolinians. Their targets are usually seniors and the bait is unchanged: potential victims are contacted, often by phone, and told they have won cash, a new car or another large prize.
In the past scammers often convinced their victims to send money via Western Union or MoneyGram. Now, increasingly, they are using reloadable debit cards, Brantley said.
After the victims are informed of the prize they won, they are instructed to visit a local WalMart store or other location where Green Dot MoneyPaks are available. They are told to put some money, usually a few hundred dollars, onto a Green Dot reloadable debit card to cover taxes, fees or other charges associated with the prize. Brantley said, once the money has been loaded, the scammers get the card’s account number from the victim. They drain the account of all of its funds in an electronic transaction that is both instantaneous and untraceable.
Green Dot is aware that its services have been abused, Brantley said, and offers anti-fraud tips on its website. She remindeds people never to pay up front for any prize, award or other “winning.”
If you spot a scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov.
– article submitted
by Lou Parton