PARKERSBURG - A local woman was scammed for several thousand dollars in the Green Dot money scam, officials said.
Green Dot money card scams are becoming popular across the nation and have hit the Mid-Ohio Valley several times, said Lt. G.D. Nangle, a detective with the Parkersburg Police Department.
For one 78-year-old Parkersburg resident, news of the scams comes too late, Nangle said. The woman's name is being withheld, Nangle said.
The woman received a phone call from a man claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service who informed her she was behind on her taxes and would be arrested if she did not obey instructions and immediately pay, Nangle said.
The woman was instructed to go to a nearby Rite Aid store and purchase several thousand dollars worth of Green Dot money cards.
Green Dot money cards are pre-paid debit cards that are filled at local stores, Nangle said. There is a series of numbers under a coin scratch-off strip on the back of the card.
If you believe you have been a victim of any scam or have any questions about scams, you can call the Attorney General's Office at 1-800-368-8808.
"As soon as the scammer has this serial number on the card's back, they have instant access to the money online and transfer it to their own cards," Nangle said.
The local woman said she was instructed to call back on her cell phone while in the store, as soon as she made the purchase of the Green Dot cards, and provide the numbers to the caller or go to jail, Nangle said.
The amount of money the woman put on the cards was not revealed, although Nangle described it as "several cards."
The scammer in this case called the local woman on Monday and scammed her out of several thousand dollars, then called her back on Tuesday to demand more, Nangle said.
The local woman went to purchase more Green Dot cards at the Rite Aid on Tuesday, but was stopped by suspicious store employees, Nangle said. They spoke to the woman and advised that they believed she was being scammed, Nangle said. That was when the local woman called the police.
The Parkersburg Police Department has opened an investigation, but believes the money is beyond recovery, Nangle said.
"Most of these scammers operate from outside the country," Nangle said.
Once the money leaves the Green Dot card, it becomes untraceable, he said.
"Any time someone calls demanding payment of any kind on a Green Dot card, immediately hang up the phone. You are being scammed," Nangle said. "No reputable company will ever demand payment on a Green Dot card."
No agent from the IRS will ever demand payment in this manner or threaten to have someone arrested, Nangle said.
This scam takes on different forms, but the most common calls come from a scammer who claims to be with the IRS, state tax office, credit card company or local utility, Nangle said. They almost always threaten arrest or immediate termination if their instructions are not followed, he said.
"The best thing you can do is hang up immediately, regardless of what they threaten," Nangle said.
Do not answer attempts to call back, Nangle said. Instead, find a paper copy of the bill in question and call the number printed on the bill to ask about the status of the account.