Scammers at every turn

Scam Alert

Beware of Green Dot MoneyPak Scams


The crooks’ other preferred payment method has become the weapon of choice

 [My concern is that it has become difficult to know who is actually there to help you and who isn’t. MetaBank, a provider of prepaid cards scammed me. Anyone using METABANK’s services may find themselves being scammed from every angle….I would just avoid using these cards entirely… doing things the old way works just fine.]

by: Sid Kirchheimer | from: AARP Bulletin | April 23, 2012


For decades, a request for a wire transfer through Western Union or MoneyGram has been the calling card of scammers. But with many would-be victims having finally wised up to that red flag, fraudsters are increasingly asking to be paid in another way: through Green Dot’s MoneyPak cards. [ The GreenDot Money Pak Cards are not safer than using cash]


Available at more than 50,000 retail locations, MoneyPak cards cost about $5. Consumers pay cash to put dollar value on the cards, which can then be used for such things as topping off a PayPal account, paying certain utility bills and funding about 120 brands of reloadable prepaid debit cards — which includes the new AARP Foundation PrePaid MasterCard from Green Dot. Prepaid cards function like traditional checking account debit cards, without the checks. [ These prepaid cards are everywhere now. They have been heavily marketed so that you may be sold these cards through a business you know and like, but it will always be the same bank and an anonymous entity for you who manages these cards. The cards sold to the managers of any corporate partner will be given different phone numbers and cards that look like the one they sell to consumers, but they will have different numbers on their cards from those that are sold to their clients…. MetaBank simply wanted exclusive access to AARP ‘s client base.   METABANK is not a worthy partner.]


A MoneyPak comes with a scratch-off 14-digit serial number. To transfer funds to a prepaid debit card, holders call or visit the MoneyPak or Green Dot websites and reveal the number.

And that’s where scammers step in. “Fraudsters will call or email you, saying that you won a lottery or can buy discount merchandise at their phony websites — but you need to pay fees to get your prize or purchase that merchandise via MoneyPak — and only MoneyPak,” says Green Dot spokesman Brian Ruby. “They then ask for the 14-digit code.”

Reveal that — in spite of a warning on MoneyPak cards not to do it — and the crooks can then transfer your MoneyPak funds to their own prepaid debit cards, typically opened under stolen identities, to make their own purchases or ATM withdrawals.

As Scam Alert previously reported, scams using MoneyPak initially appeared in 2009 as a way to get unsuspecting victims to pay “finder’s fees” to secure nonexistent government grants. The timing was not coincidental: At the time, the Federal Trade Commission was cracking down on wire-transfer scams.

MoneyGram, the second largest wire-transfer company, faced accusations from the commission that it had knowingly allowed fraudulent telemarketers to use its system to bilk consumers out of tens of millions of dollars. MoneyGram reached an $18 million settlement with the FTC in that case.


Since then, however, MoneyPak has been a requested payment method in cons involving fake lotteries; bogus online and auction transactions; background checks in job scams; and impostors posing as arrested or hospitalized grandchildren in the “grandparent scam.”

[ Just pay using cash and buy locally.] 


The latest variation: People posing as representatives of utility companies call customers saying they should pay their bills with MoneyPak and provide the impostors with the serial number.


“You need to treat your MoneyPak like cash,” [One of the marketing tools for these prepaid cards is that they are safer than cash, but they aren’t] advises Ruby. “Do not give the 14-digit serial number to anyone except if you call or visit the MoneyPak or Green Dot websites. Anyone who calls you saying you need to buy a MoneyPak and give its code is probably a scammer.”


Other ways to safeguard your card:

• Be wary of websites or online advertisements in which you’re specifically asked to pay with a MoneyPak card, rather than also allowing the use of credit or bank-tied debit cards.

• Remember that if you’re told you have to pay any kind of advance fee to collect a prize or get a job or government grant, it’s a scam.

• If you want to use MoneyPak funds to buy from online merchants, first transfer the funds to your PayPal account.  Never directly provide your MoneyPak number to an online merchant. [ This is very complicated then. What good is the prepaid card?]

• Don’t trust online merchants just because their websites display a MoneyPak or Green Dot logo; scammers operating phony websites often fraudulently use these logos. Only these approved partners are vetted to accept MoneyPak funds.

• Treat the funds loaded on your MoneyPak like cash and understand that unlike credit cards, MoneyPak transactions cannot be reversed. If you lose the MoneyPak or give the number to crooks, MoneyPak won’t refund your funds. And the money on your MoneyPak is not FDIC-insured. 

[The MoneyPak is not better nor safer than paying with cash. However, GREENDOT is marketed as being safer than using cash. The money on your GREENDOT MONEYPAK card is NOT FDIC insured….. What good is this card then? It is nothing but a pain in the neck to use…. Keep your life simple!!!! Prepaid Bank Cards do not make your life simpler…. Pay using cash and buying locally]

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