The Real Deal: New Twist on Payday Loan Scam
Updated: Wednesday, March 20 2013, 01:56 PM EDT
COLONIE – It’s a new twist on an old scam. Police departments across the Capital Region tell CBS 6 nearly a dozen people have been targeted in the past few weeks by scammers who promise to help with your bills but only end up taking your cash.
Tina Montello has some medical issues, so she went online looking for a payday loan. About an hour after she filled out a survey on the web, she got a phone call. “They wanted to offer me a loan and I said yes, and they said I could have anything from $2,000-$10,000 and I said $6,000,” Montello tells CBS6.
The caller instructed her to go to her local Walgreens and put $600 on two NetSpend reloadable debit cards and then to call him back. “When I did it and called him back, I gave him the number on the back of the cards and then he wanted me to fax a copy of my driver’s license, along with a copy of the front and back of the cards, which I did,” she says. A few hours later, the man called back again and asked for two more cards. “ I said, this isn't right and he said if I wanted my money I needed to do it, to prove I would be able to pay the loan back once I got it” Monetello says. She went and loaded up two more cards and then called him back with the card numbers. She hasn’t heard back from the caller or the bogus company since.
Colonie Police say Montello is just one of a handful of people who have fallen victim to this scam over the past two weeks. Greenport Police also have a victim that lost more than $1,700 to scammers with a similar story. Not only are these victims losing money and in some cases their identities but they’re opening themselves up to other scammers too. “All of these victims continue to get calls from other scammers who continue to try and solicit them,” says Lt. Bob Winn of Colonie Police.
The Colonie Police Department is sending letters to local businesses that sell GreenDot and NetSpend cards warning them of the recent rash of scams associated with the cards. Investigators are hoping that the store salespeople will at least ask customers who come in looking to buy and put money on the cards whether they are sure the transaction is legitimate. Both Green Dot (https://www.moneypak.com/ProtectYourMoney.aspx) and NetSpend (https://www.netspend.com/help/netspend_security_center/) have alerts about these type of scams on their websites.
Although the scammers give victims fax and telephone numbers to communicate with them, often those lines are disconnected by the time investigators get the case. “Those numbers are usually perishable, they're used for a short amount of time and once they (the scammers) realize their number has been burned, they go to another one,” says Winn which makes it nearly impossible to track them down.
If you’re looking for a legitimate loan, it’s best to check with your bank first and foremost to see if they can offer you the cash you need under acceptable terms. If that’s not an option, taking a cash advance on your credit card in most cases, will get you a lower interest rate then even a reputable payday loan company will likely offer.