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Hingham Police warn of phone scam targeting elderly

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  January 24, 2013 12:02 PM

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Hingham Police are warning residents of a phone scam targeting the elderly.

According to police, an 87-year-old man from South Hingham received a call at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning, saying he had won a car.

The man was allegedly told the car would be delivered that day to his house as long as he purchased a Green Dot card for $150. The caller also said the company would refund the $150 to him when he received the car.

Police say the scam is not new. The “Green Dot Scam” or “Walgreens Green Dot Scam” refers to the company name on prepaid debit/credit cards that are on sale at numerous retailers, including Walgreens.

At 11 a.m., the resident called the scammer back and said he didn’t know a place to buy a Green Dot card, police said. The scammer said the nearest place was Walgreens in Weymouth, and stressed that the resident must have the card information before the car was delivered at 12:30 p.m.

The resident became suspicious and called police to report possible fraud.

While officers were at the home, the scammer called back and asked the resident to read off the Green Dot number and PIN number on the back. The resident said he didn’t purchase a card, and the caller hung up.

According to police, scammers use the newly purchased card number and pin and transfer the $150 to an account of their own. Typically, the cash is lost before they can even hang up the phone.

“Fortunately, in this case, the resident had not purchased the card so he was not able to give out the card number and the PIN,” Hingham Police said in an email alert.

Police said the number the scammer called from was 876-281-2287.

Although that's an area code for Jamaica, police said that when they called the number,
they spoke to a man named Michael, who said he was in Norwood.

According to police, officers could hear several phones ringing in the background along with other conversations. The man asked who the caller was. When police identified themselves, the caller hung up.

"Our effort is to prevent residents from being victims and educating residents to prevent them from becoming victims in future similar scams...as with similar scams as soon as the wire or send their money its gone and recovering it is impossible," said Sgt. Steven Dearth in an email.

In light of the scam, police are reminding residents to be vigilant about phone calls such as these, and to come forward if they are the victim of a similar scam attempt.

“It may have occurred and residents may have been embarrassed to tell anyone,” Hingham Police said.

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