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Scam Alert - prepaid 'Green Dot' MoneyPak cards

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

A new scam involving prepaid Green Dot MoneyPak cards is currently making its way across the country.
For the uninitiated, Green Dot MoneyPak is a prepaid card routinely used by people who do not have bank accounts. The cards can be purchased for $4.95 at retail stores like 7-11, Wal-Mart, CVS/Pharmacy, Rite Aid Pharmacy and KMart. They can be loaded with a maximum of $500 at most retailers or $1,000 if used at Walmart, and then used to shop online or add money to a PayPal account.
In the MoneyPak scam, a con man calls pretending to be a representative from a utility company, an agent from the United States Internal Revenue Service or even a law enforcement officer. The victim is always told he's in default due to some semi-plausible reason, such as being in arrears for a utility service and, to avoid having electricity or water shut off, must pay the bill immediately. Sometimes, a "law enforcement officer" tells the victim he must pay a fine to avoid arrest due to missing jury duty or even to stop deportation proceedings.
As the scam continues, the intended victims are instructed to purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak card or cards, load the requested amount of money owed onto the card and provide the scammer with number on the back of the card. At that point, the swindlers will immediately transfer the funds to another card.
Green Dot MoneyPak cards serve legitimate purposes, including being used in lieu of having a bank account. Since the cards can only be bought with cash, consumers do not have to disclose their personal or financial information to a retail cashier or to make a payment.
For this reason, con men find it easier to simply transfer the funds from the cards rather than asking their victims to wire money to them.
According to the website www.moneypak.com, anyone who asks for a person's MoneyPak number or for information from the receipt, is probably attempting to perpetrate a scam.
The website advises purchasers not to give their MoneyPak number to pay for something bought through the classifieds or to collect a prize or sweepstakes. The website also recommends that purchaser not give away receipt information to another party either.
If MoneyPak numbers or information about the purchase transaction is given to a criminal, Green Dot will not refund the lost money. The website states: "Your MoneyPak is not a bank account. The funds are not insured against loss."
Always remember that anyone with the number on a Green Dot MoneyPak card has access to the funds on the card. So, everyone is advised never to let a caller - aka scammer - talk you into buying a Green Dot MoneyPak card for any reason.
Other important tips include:
• Never paying a bill with a Green Dot MoneyPak Card over the phone.
• Never giving out personal or financial information to unsolicited emails or calls.
• Never wiring money, provide debit or credit card numbers or Green Dot MoneyPak card numbers to anyone you do not know.
Remember, scammers are the only people who will contact you and demand immediate payment via a Green Dot MoneyPak. Always be on alert to avoid becoming the scammer's next victim.