When Green Means STOP

Recently a number of residents have reported getting calls from scam artists who stole money from them by convincing them to buy Green Dot or other pre-paid money cards and then read the account numbers to them over the phone. When a stranger demands payment in the form of Green Dot or other prepaid cards, STOP.  You're being scammed.

Scammers are endlessly creative in the stories they concoct.  One claimed to be from the Internal Revenue Service, and said they'd come arrest the victim for non-payment of taxes if they didn't get paid immediately over the phone using Green Dot cards; one claimed to be from Placer County Courts, and told the victim they'd be arrested for outstanding warrants if they didn't pay immediately over the phone; and one claimed that the victim had won the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, and that they'd get a huge prize if they first paid some fees via pre-paid cards, of course by providing the card numbers over the phone.

These scams can be convincing, because scammers usually place their calls using Voice Over IP (via the Internet) with spoofed phone numbers--if you have caller ID, the phone number of the caller might appear to be from the local area, when in fact it could originate from overseas or anywhere.

Prepaid Green Dot cards and other prepaid gift cards are fine to use as gifts or other payments to people you know. Please don't trust callers who demand payment in this form--just hang up. No government agency, utility company or other reputable business would demand payment in this form. Once you've purchased these cards and read the account numbers off to that stranger on the phone, your money is gone. Likewise, never wire money to anyone you don't know--once the money's been picked up on the other end, it's gone and you can't get it back.