3 On Your Side: Sneaky New “Pre-Paid” Scam

jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Thieves are finding new ways to drain your savings, without targeting your bank account.

As 3 On Your Side consumer reporter Jim Donovan explains, “pre-paid” is now the payment method of choice for some scammers.

Shirley Hill admits that she should have been more skeptical last month when she got an e-mail saying she’d been approved for a loan.

“I wanted to do something good for my mother-in-law because she was having a hard time,” said Hill.

But when she called the number on the e-mail, Shirley was told first, she’d have to prove she could pay it back. And not in the usual ways like providing references or proof of employment.

Shirley says the person on the other end told her to buy three Green Dot MoneyPak cards and load them with $1,400. That was all the money Shirley happened to have at the moment.

“Then he says scratch off the number on the back and give me the number,” said Hill.

Something she now regrets. Within moments Shirley’s money was gone, probably forever.

“It was one big mess,” said Hill.

“If a con artist is looking to take advantage of somebody this is one way for them to be successful at it,” said Lori Wilson with the Better Business Bureau.

Wilson says these pre-paid cards scams are common because anyone who has the account number can get the money. And once they do, it’s untraceable..

“We’ve seen this situation with sweepstakes, lotteries, work at home,” said Wilson.

It’s happening so often the BBB has issued a warning along with other government agencies.

The Green Dot package also comes with a warning. The company says it’s not responsible for paying you back if some one steals the funds.

A bitter disappointment for Shirley who’s now deeper in debt than ever before.

“After I thought about it, I was so darn stupid, but we needed the money,” said Hill.

This scam has happened with other pre-paid cards too so you need to realize that they’re just like gift cards. If you lose a card or give the account number away anyone can use it.

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