Polk SO warns of 'Green Dot MoneyPak Card' scam - WFLA News Channel 8

Polk SO warns of 'Green Dot MoneyPak Card' scam

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Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has issued a warning to residents about the 'Green Dot MoneyPak' card scam. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has issued a warning to residents about the 'Green Dot MoneyPak' card scam.
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) - Authorities in Polk County are warning residents about a criminal enterprise weaving its way across the country

The ‘Green Dot MoneyPak Card’ scam is currently being deployed by thieves in New York, Georgia, Virginia, California and Illinois. Law enforcement agencies in those states have seen an increase in reports about the scam this month.
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In most cases, an unsuspecting victim will receive a phone call and the person on the other end introduces himself as a person of authority – i.e. a law enforcement officer, a utility provider, a member of the court or an agent with the Internal Revenue Service.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says criminals are becoming more and more devious.

“In February we told residents Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies do not call residents and instruct them to purchase any sort of debit card or money order to pay off a fine for missed jury duty, an outstanding warrant, missed court date fee, red-light ticket fine, or legal fee,” Judd explains. “And unfortunately, we again have received information that someone is trying to swindle citizens using our agency’s name – don’t be fooled by this thief. No one at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office makes phone calls collecting alleged debts.”

The caller advises the victim there is an outstanding ‘red-light camera fine, a missed jury summons, a warrant or some other failed payment or outstanding fine.’

They direct the potential victim to purchase a money order or a ‘Green Dot MoneyPak Card’ to take care of the matter. They also provide a phone number for them to call once they purchase the card.

According to a Polk County SO report the ‘Green Dot’ debit card is pre-paid and is not linked to a bank account. The card can be purchased for less than $5 and while most retail outlets have a limit to what can be ‘loaded’ to the card, other options could increase the amount to over $1,000.

Because the card and security numbers are not linked to a financial institution, transactions are virtually invisible. Law enforcement officials say that makes them very difficult to investigate.

Detectives with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office are currently investigating six reports about an unknown subject calling residents asking for payment. The ‘unknown subject’ identifies himself as ‘Polk County Deputy Major Stevens or Lieutenant Harper.’

In these incidents the suspect informs the potential victim that they missed jury duty and a warrant will be issued for their arrest if they don’t got to the local Walgreens or CVS to purchase a ‘Green Dot MoneyPak Card’ to take care of the matter.

The suspect gives the victim a phone number to call once the purchase is made to provide the card’s confirmation number. Once the transaction is complete the thief has the victim’s cash and the phone number is then disconnected leaving investigators little to go on.

One of the Polk County victims lost $1,500 in the scam.

Judd gives residents a few guidelines follow so you don’t get scammed.

- Never give personal information to a stranger.

- Be suspicious of phone calls from people attempting to collect a debt. Look up the phone number of the organization the caller claims to represent (not the number on the caller ID) and check on your account. Legitimate service providers do not accept payment via prepaid cards.

- Green Dot Corporation has its own tips for how to avoid fraud, and they discourage consumers from ever handing over a prepaid card number to anyone.

- Seniors are considered easy prey to thieves, help keep elderly family members protected and prepared by informing them about this type of scam.

- Contact Law Enforcement if you receive suspicious “debt collecting” calls.

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