The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman Vincent Gentile:
Scams of all kinds have historically involved a victim wiring cash to a stranger, but now that many consumers have gotten wise to that trick, scammers have found a new way for them to trick people into handing over their hard-earned cash: they’re called “Green Dot” MoneyPak cards.
The cards themselves aren’t the problem; “Green Dot” MoneyPak cards serve a very valuable purpose for some people who don’t have bank accounts.
“Green Dot” cards are reloadable debit cards, available everywhere, and you can use them to pay your phone, cable, or credit card bill. Scammers like them because they’re more convenient than a money wire and just as untraceable.
Here’s how the “Green Dot” scam works:
A scammer posing as a debt collector calls and says they need payment immediately “or else!” The con artist then instructs the person to go to a Walgreens or Rite Aid and load a Green Dot MoneyPak card with the cash they supposedly owe. They are then told to scratch off the back and call with the secret PIN number on the card. Since Green Dot MoneyPak cards are not linked to bank accounts, anyone you share your card number with, has instant access to your cash and can siphon the card dry in a matter of seconds.
“Unfortunately, some of these swindlers have been successful at getting some of our local businesses to fork over thousands of dollars,” Councilman Vincent J. Gentile said. “The scammer pretends to be calling from ConEd – and the next thing you know, the business owner has paid the con artist thousands of dollars because they were worried they’d shut their lights off if they didn’t pay immediately. It’s really despicable – especially for unsuspecting small businesses that are just trying to make ends meet.”
Councilman Gentile has been working closely with Deputy Inspector Richard DiBlasio, the Commanding Officer of the 68 Precinct, in order to get the word out to as many people as possible about the scam.
“When it comes to scams, knowledge is power. Just by being aware, you can be your own first line of defense against these fraudsters.”