- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
When Adrienne Curtin of Dunkirk received a phone call from someone stating she had won $9 million in a “senior contest,” she knew it was probably too good to be true. So she called the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office and was told it was part of a scam.
Curtin said a man called her husband’s cellphone Monday telling her she had won $9 million from a “senior contest,” and all she had to do to get her money was to visit her local Walgreens and purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak card, which is a reloadable prepaid debit card. The man told her to put $125 on the card, Curtin said, and then call him back.
“It was very believable,” Curtin said. “He called me three different times.”
After several phone conversations with the man, Curtin said she called the sheriff’s office and was told it was a scam. Unfortunately, because the scammers are working from overseas, there is no way of tracing the phone calls and nothing the sheriff’s office can do, Curtin said, so they told her to just ignore the man.
“The sheriff’s office told me to ignore it or hang up, just leave it be, because there’s nothing they can do,” Curtin said.
According to the AARP website, scammers have been targeting senior citizens by calling them and telling them they won the lottery or can buy discount merchandise at their fake website using a 14-digit code on the back of a MoneyPak card. Once the 14-digit code is revealed to the scammers, any amount of money that was on the MoneyPak card can be transferred onto the scammer’s own debit cards to make their own purchases or ATM withdrawals, the website states.
Other scams involving MoneyPak cards, the website states, include online and auction transactions, background checks in job scams, people posing as arrested or hospitalized grandchildren and people posing as utility company representatives that urge customers to pay their bills with the card.
Calvert County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Steve Jones, commander of the Calvert Investigative Team, said the sheriff’s office has received reports of the same type as the MoneyPak but instead involved Western Union.
“People will call a resident of Calvert County and say that they won a sum of money, but before they get the money, they have to send a certain amount of money to [the scammer] first, whether it be a gift card or certified check,” Jones said. “… When someone is asking you for money because you won money, it’s going to be a scam.”
Jones said if a resident receives a phone call claiming they won money, personal information, such as Social Security numbers or dates of birth, should never be given out. He said residents should try to gather information about the person calling, like a phone number, company mailing address or website, which will usually “throw the caller off” and they will not call back.