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NPPD Crime Prevention Tip:

Prepaid Debit Card Scams


Police Department’s throughout the country are getting reports of various scams.  Some potential victim’s immediately realize something seems awry; while other people fall victim and lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars.  The victims come from all walks of life, income and education levels.  The suspects usually rely on appealing to someone’s greed or the victim’s emotions by claiming a family member is in dire need.  Here are some common variations; all have been reported in New Jersey: 

  • The caller claims to be a friend of the victim’s son/daughter/grandchild.   The child, usually a college age young adult is in the hospital and needs money for treating an injury. 
  • The caller claims to be the friend of the victim’s son/daughter/grandchild who has been arrested and needs to post bail. 
  • The caller claims to be a federal law enforcement officer and will start deportation proceedings against the victim and/or a family member if a special fee is not paid.
  • The caller is from a bank and has a special no interest loan available, the victim is just requested to pay a processing fee.
  • The caller is from a government agency and represents to the victim they have been selected for a special no fee monetary grant, a refundable fee is just needed to start the process
  • The caller states they are from the IRS and unless a fee is paid, the victim’s wages will be garnished or bank account frozen or seized due to unpaid taxes.  
  • The caller claims to be from the electric power company; the victim’s bill is overdue and unless they make a payment the electricity will be cut off.    
  • The caller claims the victim has won an international or Canadian lottery and only needs to put forth a processing fee and their winnings will be forwarded in the near future.
  • These cases are often difficult for local law enforcement to investigate and or prosecute for a variety of reasons, including crossing state boundaries and international borders and the tremendous amounts of time these investigations can consume for what is a non-violent crime. 

Many of the scams listed above will involve the caller asking the victim to purchase a “Green Dot Card”   A “Green Dot Card” is a pre-paid debit card sold by many chain stores. The victim will be instructed to purchase a reload card for a certain amount.  Once purchased, the caller will ask the victim to read off the security code on the back of the card.  With that data the caller can then load the dollar value into a legitimate bank account via a cell phone or the internet.  Cash can then be withdrawn from an ATM or the value can be placed on another card to purchase consumer goods.  Scams often target seniors, who often have the financial resources but may not be technology oriented and maybe easily emotionally manipulated by being put in fear for a loved one’s safety.  Families should have a verifiable code word to use in phone conversation with one another to verify authenticity in such a reported emergency.  Also please remember to never provide money to an unknown person that initiates the contact with you.