Category: Prepaid Credit Cards
KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Knox County Sheriffs Office is issuing a warning after receiving many complaints of various phone scams.
KCSO says there of several variations of scams targeting the Knoxville area, in which callers claim to be officers with the KCSO, the IRS and various federal agencies and claim to be collecting funds for things like missed jury duty and outstanding warrants.
The calls come from local, toll-free, unlisted, blocked, restricted, national and international numbers.
In most of the scams, callers request funds be paid by purchasing a prepaid Green Dot credit card.
KCSO says law enforcement agencies will never call residents to collect money via prepaid credit cards. No matter how threatening the calls sound, they are scams.
The KCSO is actively investigating the calls. If you receive a similar call, do not give out any money or personal information.
If you feel you have been the victim of a scam, call KCSO at (865) 215-2243 to file a report. You may also call at any time if you are unsure of the validity of a phone call.
MARION — Amid the charred wreckage of their house, a couple has recovered only one item of worth since a fire left them homeless.
Tim and Mary Price said they recovered photos and footprints of their children from a keepsake box found underneath burned rubble from the West Columbia Street home.
The family has not taken many visits out to their old property since a June 17 tragedy destroyed three homes by the overpass.
Mary Price said they have spent days searching for a permanent home while spending all available resources on temporary housing at a nearby hotel.
?It is very hurtful,? she said.
The husband and wife are residing at the Comfort Inn near US 23 with four children ages 2 through 14. Tim Price said they play board games with the kids to keep them sidetracked.
?They mainly just don?t want out of their schools,? Mary Price said. ?They?re really worried about leaving their school.?
The six-person family lived with another half dozen family members at 460 W. Columbia St. before it was allegedly set ablaze by 48-year-old Martin Keifer III.
Since then, the Prices said they have spent nearly all of their available resources for another night of temporary housing while they look for a new place to call home.
?We?ve been looking in the Marion area, but I?m to the point where anywhere, any place, will do,? Mary Price said.
The American Red Cross has provided temporary help to cover emergency needs: food, clothing and shelter.
Julie Frim, disaster program manager for the central-southeast Ohio region for the Red Cross, said their protocol is to provide three nights in a hotel for families displaced from their homes because of fire. In this case, the Price family received a five-nights stay.
The Red Cross does not provide long-term recovery but helps those affected ?find alternative housing and hook them up with other agencies to continue the recovery process,? Frim said.
?We ask they look in the community to see who is helping this family and really verify it,? she said.
The Red Cross also provides prepaid credit cards for victims to use as they see fit, recommending spending on food, clothing or other immediate needs.
Mary Price said they have used those cards to buy additional nights at the hotel. She said she was thankful for their help, but upset that they were not helping beyond the short-term care.
?The Red Cross is not all they?re cracked up to be,? she said.
At least three anonymous donations have given the Price family more nights with a roof over their head while they look for a place to live.
The Rev. Russell Howard said members of the Richland Road Church of Christ also have chipped in to help the victims of the fire.
?We?ve done that for other families as well,? he said. ?They don?t have anything. They lost everything. That?s what Jesus would do.?
Mary Price was grateful for all the help from the community.
?Thank you so much for everyone who has helped already,? she said. ?It is very appreciated.?
But there are urgent needs for Price and other victims as the short-term help turns into long-term support.
?Sometimes it?s not as quick as people need, especially when there?s a fire,? said Bev Young, executive director at the Marion Area Counseling Center. ?That?s kind of the struggle right now.
?It?s really tough, when you have a fire and lost everything, to piece your life back together.?
Deborah Addis, case manager and housing coordinator with the Marion Area Counseling Center, said ?this is a case where the community is going to have to pull together.?
But a place for the community to go to help has been unfounded. Members of the Marion City Fire Department, the United Way of Marion County, the Red Cross, MACC and the Price family said they did not know a place accepting donations for the victims of the alleged arson as of press time.
Mary Price offered her personal phone number to those willing to provide help. She said she could be reached at 419-560-8226.
Addis has been helping the Price family, two other families who were displaced when the fire spread to neighboring homes, and two families affected by a West Columbia Street fire set by a child playing with matches about a week ago. The rush of people in need of long-term housing has put a pinch on public resources.
?I?ve been kind of bombarded within the last few weeks to help these families,? she said.
Complicating matters is a fraud investigation. A white female has been spotted asking for donations for the victim?s families.
Tim and Mary Price said they do not know who she is. Mary Price said the suspect tried to contact her and give some of the money in agreement to not call the police.
?She?s begging me not to press charges on her,? she said.
Officers with the Marion Police Department believe they know who the suspect is but have not released a name.
?It?s a headache,? Tim Price said.
The June 17 fire was sparked after Keifer allegedly was in an altercation with Tim Price?s son, who was living in another home in the area, the night before the fire. Witnesses said Keifer made threats to the family before leaving.
Keifer pleaded guilty to an arson in 2011 and has a criminal history involving other felony charges. He was indicted on multiple counts of aggravated arson.
The only injury was suffered by a 9-year-old girl who has burns on her foot, although several pets and thousands of dollars in property were lost.
Q. My wife does a lot of shopping online, all at reputable businesses, but her credit card has been stolen four times in the last year, requiring her to get a new card each time. Is there a way to shop online with a credit card that will self-destruct after each purchase?
A. Contact your credit card company and see if you are eligible for one-time-use cards. With these cards, you can set up certain guidelines. For example, you can only use the card at certain websites, can only spend up to $100, or can only use it Tuesday from 8 to 10 am You also could open a dedicated free checking account just for online transactions. Only put money in when you need to buy something. If a hacker takes over the account, it’s no big deal as long as your real account isn’t linked to it. You could also try using gift cards or prepaid credit cards.
Q. I read about a new Facebook feature that uses your smartphone’s microphone to listen in on you, but claims it helps you share and discover music, TV and movies. I don’t like this invasion of privacy. How do I stop it?
A. In a stunning display of good sense, Facebook has made that feature opt-in, so it’s off by default. When the feature becomes available, you’ll see a screen asking if you want to turn it on. Just tap “Not Now.” If you see a blue audio icon flashing in the Facebook app, that means Facebook is trying to identify noises. If there’s no icon, Facebook isn’t listening. You can double check that it’s off in your Facebook app settings. It should be listed under “feelings and activities.” While you’re at it, you should go take a look at all your privacy settings in Facebook.
Q.I’m getting married in Mexico and I want to create a place where our guests can upload their photos in one place. What are your recommendations?
A. There are a few different online photo services you could try out. Photo-sharing site Shutterfly is one, and photo-organizing site Picasa is another. However, a site like DropEvent might be your best bet. It lets you create collaborative photo galleries. Just send an email with the gallery link to anyone you want to contribute. They can upload and everything is in one place for you to view and download. It’s free, and your account will be active for six months.
DURHAM — Durham Regional Police are warning people to be vigilant as there have been multiple reports of telephone fraudsters posing as legitimate hydro companies.
In several instances, suspects have been calling citizens or business owners and saying they are from Veridian Connections or other legitimate electricity distributors, police note. People are being told they are more than $1,000 behind in their bills and the power would be shut off if the bill isnt paid immediately.
People are told to make a credit card payment or use prepaid credit cards from stores and forward the numbers to the caller. Down payments of hundreds of dollars are also encouraged.
The callers have set up an answering machine and a toll-free number to make it appear its a legitimate hydro company.
Anyone with similar experiences is asked to contact the DRPS at 1-888-579-1520.
There have been at least two reports this week from the Collinsville area.
Someone claiming to represent SMEC is contacting people by telephone saying they are past due on their electric bills and if they dont pay immediately with a credit or debit card, their electricity will be cut off. Scammers may ask for the account number and any security codes or pin numbers to access a credit card or bank account. They may even ask customers to purchase prepaid credit cards for the amount they specify.
In some instances, the caller has consumer account and meter information, which could easily be found in trash or dumpsters. As a precaution, customers are advised to always shred any type of mail with personal information or account numbers visible.
According to Mark Malone, SMECs chief financial officer, no one from Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative will ever make a call of this nature.
Please do not give any personal information to a caller asking for payment to SMEC over the phone, Malone said. Simply hang up then immediately dial SMEC and/or your local police department to report the incident.
SMEC customers should always be suspicious of anyone calling to collect money and asking for personal information, Malone said. The co-op does not make telephone calls asking for payment of electric bills or past due accounts, nor does it request personal financial information over the phone.
Anyone who receives this kind of call is asked to gather as much information as possible from the caller and contact SMEC immediately at 256-638-2153, so the scam can be investigated.
Lake Forest police are warning of a recent rash of scam phone calls in the area telling people they need to buy prepaid credit cards to avoid being arrested.
This is a classic scam that plays on the residents sense of civic responsibility, combined with their fear of arrest, said Lake Forest Deputy Chief Karl Walldorf.
He said callers pretend to be police officers saying they are with the US courthouse in Chicago.
The callers then tell those who answer the phone that there is a warrant out for their arrest for failing to appear for jury duty, according to Walldorf.
The person then tries to convince the resident to purchase a prepaid credit card from Walgreens or a similar store to pay to settle the matter, he said.
Walldorf said the calls are happening all over the Chicago area.
In most prior variations of this scam, he said, the caller just tries to get the credit card information from the victim, then quickly uses it to make fraudulent purchases.
In ours, he added, the caller is telling the resident a specific dollar amount of gift cards to buy. So far, all our residents have refused to comply.
Walldorf said Lake Forest police have had four reports of the calls since June 20.
According to Walldorf, the Lake Forest Police Department is working with the US Marshals Service to investigate the calls.
Anyone in Lake Forest getting these or similar calls is asked to contact Crime Prevention Officer Mike Goy at (847) 810-3833.
RUTLAND — Phone-in bomb threats to two Rutland merchants have been determined to be the work of a scammer hoping to receive prepaid credit cards, Rutland Police stated early Saturday morning in a media release.
Investigators found no evidence of a bomb at either location, according to Sergeant Joseph Bartlett.
The caller, a male with a foreign accent, made the calls from a 516 area code, which is located in Nassau County, NY — on Long Island, adjacent to Queens and Brooklyn, Bartlett wrote.
An investigation revealed that numerous stores in New York have received similar baseless (and bomb-less) threats during the past few weeks, he added, and efforts are underway to identify the suspect.
Several Tuscaloosa residents have reported phone calls in recent weeks from scammers demanding money and asking for payment via a Green Dot prepaid credit card, said Tuscaloosa Police Sgt. Brent Blankley.
Some callers claim to represent utility companies, government agencies or fundraising organizations, he said.
The scammers try to intimidate people and tell them to purchase a Green Dot card to make a payment or donation.
Theyll say things like Your power will be shut off if you dont call us back within the hour with your payment on your bill in the form of a Green Dot card or We are going to report this debt and it will ruin your credit unless you pay the bill in full within the day using a Green Dot card, Blankley said.
Green Dot is one of the most common reloadable prepaid credit cards. Money added to the cards can be accessed by anyone who knows the personal identification number assigned to the card.
Once the numbers are given to the scammers, your money is gone, Blankley said.
Other scammers advertise items for sale online, Blankley said, and ask for the buyer to pay with a Green Dot card. The scammers ask for the Green Dot number, and claim that they will hold the item.
On June 17, TPD officers were called to a store in the 500 block of University Boulevard East. Someone had called the business and claimed he would blow up the building if workers didnt put money on a Green Dot card. Officers didnt find anything when they searched the building. Blankley said businesses should follow their evacuation policy and contact TPD if they receive a similar call.
He said that citizens should never give anyone a personal identification number to a prepaid credit card over the phone. If scammers are pretending to call from a utility company, people should locate the company phone number on their bill and call the company directly to inquire about whether their account is in good standing, he said.
Reach Stephanie Taylor at stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosa news.com or 205-722-0210.
Two Montgomery men are awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to a tax fraud scheme, the US Attorneys Office announced Wednesday.
Edmund Lee McCall pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and identity theft.
Co-defendant Antonio Devan Harris pleaded guilty to the same charges in January.
Court documents indicate that between 2010 and 2012, McCall and Harris conspired along with others to obtain the personal information of unsuspecting people.
They were accused of using that information to create W2s with fraudulent employee and wage information and file income tax returns online.
The two men would have the money placed on prepaid credit cards that they owned, according to prosecutors.
They filed for more than $900,000 in fraudulent tax returns, according to court documents.
They each face a maximum of 20 years on the conspiracy charge and two years for the identity theft charge.
Harris is set to be sentenced Aug. 5, and a sentencing date has not yet been set for McCall.
McCall already is serving a sentence for a prior identity theft and credit card scheme that that was carried out between 2004 and 2009.
He was convicted in January of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud along with six counts of identity theft and sentenced to 18 years.
GRAND HAVEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) A gas station clerk helped police track down the suspect in a fraud case.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department said an Illinois man was using cloned credit cards to purchase prepaid credit cards.
Crimes of that nature were being committed at Wesco locations around the state, leading a clerk at a Grand Haven Township store to be suspicious when the suspect entered the store on Saturday.
The clerk reported the suspect to police and it led to the arrest of the 59-year-old Illinois man.
The suspect is facing several charges.