12 NEWS DEFENDERS: Green Dot Money Scams - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

12 NEWS DEFENDERS: Green Dot Money Scams

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Trista Townsend thought luck had finally come her way.

"I received a call saying that I was selected for a U.S. government grant," Townsend said.

A caller told the single mom she only needed to send $150 on a Green Dot money card to collect a $7,000 grant.

"So, we talked for two days about the situation. I kept asking is this scam?" Townsend said.

Her intuition was right -- it was a scam. Once she sent the $150, they wanted more money.

"They was supposed to give me the money reference number then they was like ‘are you ready for the reference number?' I was like ‘yea.' They was like ‘well in order to get this number activated you have to send 250 more dollars,'" Townsend said.

Townsend wised up and contacted authorities, but it was too late. She was already out $150.

Authorities informed her there was nothing they could do. The money couldn't be tracked. That's why scammers use Green Dot money cards. They only need the numbers on the back to take your money.

"It's hard being a single parent and trying to make it. You know bills and for somebody to try and take your money. That's a really hard break," Townsend said. "They just really got me. I hate for anybody else to go through what I went through."

The pitch for these Green Dot scams isn't always the same. Another Green Dot scam going around involves the Montgomery Police Department. The department just issued a warning.

There are scammers posing as police officers. They claim you owe a fine. Either you pay up with a Green Dot card or go to jail. Remember, police won't call you to collect a fine.

Monica Sheeler serves as the chief of Consumer Protection for the Alabama Attorney General's Office. She warns there are several scams going around right now.

"It's so easy to steal money that way and it's virtually untraceable once the money is picked up, it's gone," Sheeler said.

She advises -- if you don't recognize the number don't answer the phone.

Sheeler's biggest piece of advice: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Green Dot offers these tips to protect your money:

  • Never give your MoneyPak number to someone you don't know
  • Refuse any offer that asks you to buy a card and share the number or receipt information by email or phone
  • Don't email your card number directly to any merchant
  • Check the list of approved partners before you use your GreenDot MoneyPak to pay
Read more about these scams on the Federal Trade Commission website.

If you think you have been a victim, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Office's hotline at 1-800-392-5658 or 334-242-7335 or file a consumer complaint online.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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