Maplewood Police Warn Residents of Green Dot, Vanilla Card Scams

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The following release was recently distributed by the Maplewood Police Department:

In a recent incident, a Maplewood resident received a phone call from a male claiming that her husband was in a car accident. The male reported that her husband had struck his relative’s 2014 BMW and that they would not release him unless she sent them money. The resident was able to keep the individual on the phone line while a third party contacted her husband and confirmed that he was not involved in any accident and was well. The resident avoided becoming a victim through her quick thinking and awareness of similar frauds.

Other common Frauds:

You receive a call from a police official who tells you that you have failed to appear in court and that to avoid arrest you need to immediately post bail. The caller then directs you to a local store where you can purchase a Green Dot card. He explains that if you give him the number, the warrant will be quashed and that you’ll get your money back when you appear in court.

Don’t do it. It’s a SCAM! They are not the police, there is no warrant and the moment they have that Green Dot number, they transfer your money to their pocket.

Unfortunately, the Federal Trade Commission reports that in the past two years, over a quarter of a million Americans have lost nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to this crime or one of its variations.

Sometimes they claim to be the police, other times it’s a local utility. There are now some variations regarding grants and loans or even individuals pretending that they have a loved one hostage.

Look for these “tells” that you are about to be a victim:

1) They will contact you and represent themselves as somebody with authority or control over an aspect of your life or business.

2) They will stress the immediacy of your action, instructing you to get the funds now (and often even remaining on the phone with you as you do).

3) They will instruct you to use a Green Dot or other reloadable and transferable card.

Don’t fall for it. If you’re not sure, contact the agency or company directly (but don’t use the number the crook is giving you). Finally, if you receive one of these calls, report it to your local police.

Electronic payments have made our lives immensely easier, but they have likewise made committing crimes easier. Protect yourself by knowing the scams and avoiding them.

Sgt. Christopher Black, Maplewood Police Department

For full details, view this message on the web.

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