By Michelle Dupler
Local police are warning residents about a telephone scam involving promises of a prize in exchange for money.
Franklin Township Police Chief Allan Wheeler said one elderly man was conned into buying a Green Dot MoneyPak card and giving the number to the scam artists over the phone when they told him he had won a new car.
The resident received the call and was told he had been entered into a prize drawing, and to claim the prize he had to pay a customs fee.
He was told to go buy the MoneyPak, which is a type of prepaid credit card, and then to call back with the number. Wheeler said the resident believed that he was safe because he had the physical card and didn’t realize that the scam artists could take all the money on the card just with the card number and the three-digit security number from the back.
The scammers tried to talk the resident into sending more money, but the resident called Wheeler and the police chief put the brakes on any further transactions.
It’s unlikely there will be any arrests or that the resident will get his money back because the scammers were calling from outside the United States, and gave what appeared to be a false address in New Jersey.
Telephone and Internet fraud cases are difficult to investigate and prosecute because the cases often cross multiple domestic and foreign jurisdictions.
Wheeler said the scam artists also get smarter and smarter about using technology to cover their tracks.
“We see this kind of fraud getting progressively worse every year,” Wheeler said.
He said the best thing to do is to always remember if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
“If something doesn’t sound right and someone is asking for cash… call the police,” he said.
The Franklin Township Police Department offered these tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
•Don’t give out personal or financial information over the phone when someone calls you. That includes your address, social security number, bank account information, or debit and credit card numbers.
•If someone promises that you’ll win prizes, drawings, or sweepstakes, don’t give them money.
•If you get a suspicious call, ask for the person’s name, address and phone number and say you’ll call them back. Then contact the police.