The caller asked the woman to pay a fee of $290 for the grant and an additional $600 for taxes on the grant. Police said the woman purchased two Green Dot MoneyPak cards for the stated amounts, then called the man back and gave him the card numbers.
Police said only then did the woman get suspicious. She called the Green Dot company to try to stop the transaction, but it was too late.
There was no way of tracing where in the world the money went, police said.
Pistone said an officer was with the woman when her cellphone rang again, and the caller instructed her to go to the Western Union office. Pistone said the officer got on the phone and asked the caller several questions, which the caller refused to answer. The caller asked the officer for his badge number and said the officer was interfering with government business. The caller then hung up.
Pistone said the caller was likely using an untraceable phone or was “spoofing” phone numbers and was making these calls from anywhere in the world.
In another recent incident, a man reported to police that his mother had received a phone call from a woman named Lisa, who claimed she represented National Grid and told the woman she’d been sent three notices about changing her electric meter. The caller demanded $998 within a half-hour or the woman’s electricity would be shut off. The caller instructed the woman to send the funds using a Green Dot MoneyPak card.
Police said the family sent the money using the Green Dot card. The man told police that only then did he realize it was a scam and decided to report it, since he had given out his family’s information and was worried about identity theft.