The Richmond County Sheriff's Office is warning people about a scam involving prepaid debit cards after an Augusta woman fell victim to it earlier this week. Investigators say they have received several complaints about the scam, and with the holidays approaching, they expect scammers to step up their game.
Criminals are finding new ways to trick people out of their money. In years past, scam artists used checks, money orders and western union to steal your money. But now that consumers have caught on to their tricks, crooks are using prepaid debit cards to get you to hand over your money.
It starts with a simple phone call, but in the end, it could cost you several hundred dollars.
"If someone on the other end of that phone can convince you, that they are a representative of some sort, and they are going to help you out, in the sum of $1500, $3000, $4000 dollars, you would come up with $200 or $300 dollars pretty fast," Richmond County Sgt. Shane McDaniel says.
McDaniel is talking about a scam that is quickly becoming a widespread problem across the United States. He says scam artists are calling people who have recently applied for loans on the internet.
"They're going to get a call from someone, telling them they have been approved for a loan, up to a substantial amount of money," he says.
But in order to receive that money, the person has to pay a fee. So scammers tell the person to put money on a GreenDot MoneyPak card, and to give them the numbers on the back. The scammers make off with the money, but the victim never gets their loan.
"Then of course, they lure the victim in again and you know, to make it faster, do another $200 dollar fee for processing, and we might be able to get you the loan money within the next 30 minutes to an hour," McDaniel says.
But again, the victim never gets the money. Investigators say the scammers are using other methods over the phone as well, including pretending to be with the power company, telling people that they won the lottery, and in some cases, threatening to blow up a house or business unless the person gives them the numbers on the back of a Green Dot card. But there are some ways to make sure a scam like this doesn't happen to you.
"Don't just up and give out any of your personal information, your date of birth, social, accounting information, credit card information," McDaniel says.
Investigators also say you should never have to pay money to get money. And the best advice of all is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
"There is certainly no law against just plain hanging up and saying no," McDaniel says.
If you receive one of these phone calls and aren't sure if it's a scam, make sure you write down the number. Most of the time, you can search for the number online to see if it's a scam.
1336 Augusta West Parkway
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