Placer County sheriff’s officials warn that telephone scammers are using new tactics in an effort to extract money from local residents.
Victims have reported that they were contacted by callers saying they were from PG&E or another utility service. The victims were told that their service would be shut off unless a immediate payment was made. Victims were instructed to make the payment using “Green Dot MoneyPaks.” One Placer County resident is out $2,000 as a result of this scam, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.
The second scam recently reported in the county involved victims who received calls from someone claiming to be a family member in jail or in a medical facility. The victims were instructed to send a “Moneygram” to a specified location.
Green Dot MoneyPak is a prepaid card, usually used by people who don’t have bank accounts, according to sheriff’s officials. The cards are available at retail store for $4.95. They can be loaded with up to $500 at most retailers, or $1,000 if used at Walmart, and then used to shop online or to add money to a PayPal account.
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Scammers instruct victims to buy a GreenDot MoneyPak card, load it with a specific amount of cash and transfer the serial number to the swindler, who then transfers the money to another card.
Scammers like using Green Dot MoneyPak cards because they aren’t linked to a bank account and, like cash, are not traceable, sheriff’s officials said. Unlike cash, though, the transactions can be done by phone, so the scammer can remain anonymous. The card also offers no consumer protection from fraud, so victims can’t get their money back.
Sheriff’s officials remind people to never give personal information to a stranger, and to be wary of anyone who calls on the phone trying to collect a debt. People who receive such calls are advised to look up the phone number of the organization the caller claims to represent, not the number on the caller ID, and to check their account with the utility service.
Anyone who has been the victim of a scam is encouraged to contact his or her local law enforcement agency to file a report.