A new twist on an old scam

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I often return to the subject of Sweepstakes Fraud, because it’s an ongoing problem. A colleague of mine got stung just a couple of weeks ago, and she’s quite put out with herself. But we have to remember that the drones who perpetrate these ongoing advance-fee frauds, and many others, are very good at what they do – and all of us tend to be more trusting than not. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – Dr. Frank Crane once said,

“You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough.”

But forewarned is forearmed, and there *are* things we can do to protect ourselves against these bottom feeders.

A new twist to the old game has surfaced recently – any time there’s a good thing, you can be sure that scumbags will twist it to evil purposes. This time it’s the MoneyPak Green Dot card.

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Instead of being asked to wire “taxes” or “fees” to claim your multi-million-dollar prize via Western Union, now you’ll be asked to go to WalMart (the preferred destination, because it’s ubiquitous and familiar), load up one of these cards with cash, and then give the scratch-number on the back to the scammer. Poof! Your money’s gone.

Like Western Union, MoneyPak is a legitimate business. They have the following warning on the front page of their website:

How to Stop A Scam:

Use your MoneyPak number only with businesses on our approved list. If anyone else asks for your MoneyPak number or information from your receipt, it’s probably a scam. Don’t give your MoneyPak number to pay for something you buy through the classifieds or to collect a prize or sweepstakes. Do not give away your receipt information to another party either. If you give your MoneyPak number or information about the purchase transaction to a criminal, Green Dot is not responsible for paying you back. Your MoneyPak is not a bank account. The funds are not insured against loss.

Whatever method there is for moving money around, bad people will exploit it. The mantra we must continue to chant is:

  • Never pay money up front to claim a prize.
  • Never send money to unknown people via Western Union or any other similar method.
  • Never disclose financial information over the phone.

Be careful out there, it’s a jungle. Protect your loved ones, especially the old and vulnerable.

The Old Wolf has spoken.
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