Phone scam targeting Rutherford County

Sep. 28, 2013 @ 04:02 AM

In an effort to provide a warning to area residents and consumers, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office is asking citizens to be aware of an emerging phone scam that has been reported throughout the country and is now attempting to spread across Rutherford County.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, several residents have reported receiving a phone call with an 876 area code from a male claiming to be with Publisher’s Clearing House and informing residents that they have won money.

In order to collect their winnings, citizens are instructed to go to Wal-Mart, Target or another similar money transfer business to purchase a “Green Dot MoneyPak” card and load the card with a specified amount of money.

After purchasing the card, the male caller asks residents to call back and provide the claim number off of the card.

Once the caller has this information, he is able to withdraw the amount of money residents have placed on the card.

Green Dot MoneyPak cards are rechargeable and available at most retail outlets throughout the country and, like money wire transfers, are just as untraceable, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The FBI’s website states that the cards “are not associated with any bank, meaning that the money is in the card.”

Users of Green Dot MoneyPak cards are reminded by the FBI to never give anyone the numbers associated with those cards, in that doing so gives scammers instant access to the money on the cards.

In addition to the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers consumers several tips to help them avoid becoming victims of a scam.

These include avoiding sending money to someone you do not know, never agreeing to deposit a check and wire money back, not replying to messages asking for personal or financial information and not playing a foreign lottery.

Additionally, residents are reminded that they cannot win a contest they never entered and playing a lottery in a foreign country is illegal for U.S. citizens.

To keep abreast of the latest scams and ways to stay protected, consumers can visit www.consumer.ftc.gov or www.ncdoj.com.

Residents should contact local law enforcement if they believe they have been victims of a scam.