SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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January 23, 2014

Green Dot MoneyPak scam hits region

Residents taken for hundreds of dollars

HAVERHILL — Police are warning the public to beware of callers who threaten to shut off your electricity or are offering you a large sum of money and ask that you send payment or transaction fees by using reloadable and untraceable Greet Dot MoneyPak cards.

Police said they’ve received over a half-dozen reports about phone call scams over the last few months. Victims were bilked out of more than $5,000 after purchasing Green Dot money cards, which are essentially prepaid debit cards. Victims gave the callers the card numbers as requested, allowing the callers quick and easy access to the money.

Police said the callers were almost instantly able to have the money transferred into their own bank accounts, which are often in another country, making the transactions virtually impossible to trace.

Police Detective Lt. Robert Pistone said that in this latest method of scamming people, the victim is instructed to purchase a certain amount of dollars in Green Dot MoneyPak cards.

“Once they obtain the cards and call back, the scammer has the victim scratch the back of the Green Dot card to reveal a series of numbers and letters, and as the victim reads those off, the scammer on the other end is simultaneously entering the information into their own account, which is typically out of the country and untraceable, and being credited with the funds,” Pistone said.

“Lots of times, the scammer will then trick the victim into going to get more cards because more funds are needed to cover additional costs, at which time the victim either falls for it and sends more or realizes that it is a scam,” he said. Pistone said that in one recent instance, a Haverhill woman reported getting a call from a man with a Middle-Eastern accent, who called himself Sean, who said he worked for the Federal Banking System and that she was chosen to receive a government grant of $7,000.

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