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Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department’s Commercial Crimes Division issued a warning to the public about a recent rash of phone scams involving pre-paid/re-loadable debit cards.
The victims are contacted by a caller who states that they work for a Utility Company and are collecting money of a bill that is past due. The caller informs the victim that they can avoid having their utility service disconnected or being deported if they immediately pay the past due amount using a GreenDot/ MoneyPak that can be purchased at a local store.
The caller instructs the victim to purchase a GreenDot/MoneyPak* in a specified amount and provides the victim with a phone number to be called back when the GreenDot/MoneyPak has been obtained. The victim purchases a GreenDot/ MoneyPak at a local store and proceeds to call back the number they were given. The victim is instructed to scratch off and read the GreenDot/MoneyPak serial number to the perpetrator.
Once the scammer has the GreenDot/MoneyPak serial number they are able to transfer funds onto a prepaid debit card. The victim has now lost their money.
Here are some crime prevention tips to help avoid falling victim to this scam:
• Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payment for any reason.
• Remember that anyone who has the number on a GreenDot/MoneyPak has access to the funds on the card.
• Never give out personal or financial information to anyone who emails or calls you unsolicited.
• Never wire money, provide debit or credit card numbers or Green Dot/MoneyPak numbers to someone you do not know.
• Utility companies and government agencies will never contact you demanding immediate payment by GreenDot/MoneyPak
*GreenDot/MoneyPaks themselves are legitimate products when used for the right purposes.
Anyone with information or questions regarding this crime is asked to contact Detective Bernard Barber, Commercial Crimes Division at 213-486-5920. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.