Scammers Now Accept Prepaid Cards

Your neighborhood criminal may have a new payment option available, NBC News says. Just in case you’re looking for a new way to get cheated.

The scam they describe is nothing new – you’ve won the lottery! Just pay the fees and we’ll send your winnings! – but now you can pay in installments at Walmart. (Or any other store that sells Green Dot MoneyPaks.) Isn’t this exciting?

The nice thing for criminals about MoneyPaks is that there’s no way to get the money back once it’s transferred. There’s a warning right on the package when you buy it:

Use your MoneyPak number only with businesses listed at www.moneypack.com. If anyone else asks you for your MoneyPak number, it’s probably a scam. If a criminal gets your money, Green Dot is not responsible to pay you back.

And yet people still buy them, load them up with cash, and hand over the access PIN to someone who promises they’re going to provide something. Last year, one man lost his life savings of $41,000 this way.

If somebody says you’ve won the lottery and you owe fees, tell them to take them from your winnings or let you worry about paying the tax authorities. And if you don’t know the person or company you’re paying, be wary of payment methods where you don’t have much, if any, protection: wire transfers, prepaid cards, and basically anything that’s as good as cash.

If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out Foreign Lotteries: The Contest You Can’t Win

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