Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre is warning residents of a new type of scam involving prepaid debit cards where victims add funds to a prepaid debit card and then give the card number to crooks in return for promised prizes that never arrive.
In this scam, a potential victim receives a phone call from someone claiming to be calling on behalf of Publishers Clearing House. The caller states the potential victim has won a large sum of money and a luxury automobile. If the potential victim indicates they did not enter the contest, the caller states that he/she has been entered by local retailers.
The caller then instructs the potential victim to obtain a Green Dot® MoneyPak card at a local retailer and place several hundred dollars on the card. The caller instructs the person to call a phone number afterward and provide the card number. While the scam varies from here, ultimately, the victim is told that after this process is complete, the prize will be delivered. Of course, once the victim provides the MoneyPak card number, the scammer is now able to spend the funds they asked the victim to place on the card.
This is a typical pay for prizes scam where the scammer asks you for money in return for prizes, said Sheriff Webre. In this case, they are making the victim do all the work by placing money on a prepaid debit card and giving them the card number. Sheriff Webre indicates at least one Lafourche resident reported this scam to deputies in July. The resident reported the call to deputies and did not purchase the debit card.
The number typically appears as an 876 area code, or some other international area code, which may also lead to high long distance phone bill charges as in other phone scams.
The Green Dot® Corporation advises that if anyone asks for your MoneyPak number or information from your receipt, its probably a scam. The company further advises not to give a MoneyPak number to pay for something purchased through classified ads or to collect a prize or sweepstakes. Because MoneyPak is not a bank account, the corporation says it is not responsible for paying back the victim for losses in this manner.
Residents that do enter any legitimate contests with Publishers Clearing House should note that the company does not make telephone notifications concerning winnings. Any persons receiving similar telephone calls are strongly advised to refuse any instructions given, hang up immediately, and contact their local law enforcement agency. Sheriff Webre reminds residents that any legitimate company offering you a prize will allow you to hang up and call them back after you verify their number and information.