POPULAR PRE-PAID CARDS USED BY SCAM ARTISTS

CHICAGO (WLS) — Scam artists are ripping off consumers by asking for payment through the popular, legitimate pre-paid money card Green Dot, according to the Chicago Better Business Bureau.

“I am very, very much ashamed of the situation,” Magda Urbaniak said. The River Grove resident got a call offering her a $10,000 loan. “Caught me in the right moment because my daughter’s birthday was approaching she was turning 18 and I wanted to buy her a car.”

The catch: She had to rush to a convenient store and put money on a Green Dot card, which can be used as a pre-paid card or to pay bills with the account number on the back. Urbaniak says she got one for $500 and then the so-called loan advisor gave her several reasons why she had to keep going back to stores to get more. She spent a total of $1,500.

“I called him an hour later and he said the money is processed, go check your account . I checked and thing was there,” Urbaniak said.

The loan never showed. When she called the man back, the I-Team was there.

“So, do you want me to send the money the same way as before with the Green Dot?” she asked.

The Better Business Bureau has gotten hundreds of similar calls in the last several weeks about different schemes all connected to crooks asking victims for Green Dot account numbers. The Attorney General’s Office also said it’s getting a “steady stream” of complaints.

Recently, a Lakeview business owner fell victim to a phony ComEd rep who wanted a Green Dot card.

“I think it is a very popular card for consumers. It has legitimate services and has been around for a little bit of time. The scammers picked up on it because they market themselves pretty well. Consumers know about them,” BBB Steve Bernas said.

Green Dot warned customers on its website and on the back of its card that if anyone asks for an account number, it’s a scam; and Green Dot is not responsible for paying consumers back.

“They can take that number that you provide them over the phone and take the money out of the account pretty quickly and it is untraceable, like wiring your money outside the country,” Bernas said.

“He was very personable. He was saying about his life, he is single father. He has kids and if anything goes wrong, he is gonna pay the money,” Urbaniak said.

The ABC7 I-Team called the man who offered Urbaniak the loan, but never got a return call. Consumer experts say the best advice is not to give anyone prepaid card or money information.

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