Scam warning provided

Published 8:22 am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

 A familiar scam has resurfaced in Washington Parish, and a Bogalusa resident is warning people not to fall for it.

Tommy Underwood said he recently received a call from a person with a foreign accent, who told him he had won $2.5 million and that someone would be coming from Lafayette that afternoon to present him with his winnings.

Though Underwood was suspicious and “kind of figured it was a scam right off the bat,” he let the caller continue. Underwood was given a tracking number, access code number and security code number and told to go to a store to get a Green Dot MoneyPack Card and add $1,000 to it. The caller said the $2.5 million award was legal, had been approved by the federal government, and that all taxes had been taken out. He provided Underwood with a phone number and told him to call it and ask for Jimmy White after he had the card.

Underwood was near a Walgreens, so he went in and filled the manager in on the phone call. The manager told him it was a scam, that the caller was likely from Jamaica, and that someone else had come in to report the same thing.

About 10 minutes later, the caller phoned Underwood again, asking why he hadn’t called back. Underwood told him that it was a scam and that it was not legitimate. The caller assured him it was not a joke, but Underwood told him to give the money to someone else.

“I said, ‘If I won money, how come I have to pay $1,000?’”

Underwood was told he wouldn’t really be putting any money out, since he would get the $1,000 back in the form of a gift card.

When he later tried the phone number he had been given for “Jimmy White,” the same man answered.

Another would-be scammer called Underwood Monday morning. The caller was a woman, and her accent was thicker and more difficult to understand. She told Underwood he had been approved for a $9,000 government grant, but he informed her he hadn’t applied for any grants. He kept asking her to repeat things, and eventually she got aggravated and hung up, he said.

The Green Dot website, www.moneypak. com, provides warnings about the types of scams encountered by Underwood. Among the fraud-prevention tips provided is, “Refuse any offer that asks you to buy a MoneyPak and share the number or receipt information by email or phone.”

“Don’t use the MoneyPak to pay taxes or fees to claim ‘winnings’ on a foreign lottery or prize promotion,” the tips continue. “Unless it’s an approved MoneyPak partner, don’t use MoneyPak for any offer that requires you to pay before you get the item.”