Scammers continue attempts to defraud

MONEYPAK CARDS have become a favorite way for scammers to take your money. It is impossible to trace these cards.

Jaynell Graham
Editor

Pocahontas County residents have been diligent in reporting scams that are making the rounds, so as to warn their neighbors.

Unfortunately, it is often our most vulnerable and kindest citizens who get caught up in these matters, because they want to be honest, they want to pay their bills and they care about their family.

One resident reported that they had received a message last week from an “official sounding female” spouting off an IRS case number and Federal Manager’s name. The female asked for payment before “we write an indictment.”

The IRS will always correspond with taxpayers by letter. It will never call a taxpayer and demand payment.

Your best defense is to hang up.

Do not give out any personal information.

A second reported scam involved a caller posing as a representative of Monongahela Power.

In this scam, they threaten an imminent cut off of electricity that can only be stopped by immediately sending money.

Again, Mon Power will never call to demand payment.

If you have been late with a payment, call your bank to see if your check has cleared, or call Mon Power directly to check the status of your account.

This particular scammer insisted that payment be made with a MoneyPak card.

MoneyPak cards cannot be traced. They are the same as a gift card. Once the Money Pak card is “loaded” with cash, the money can be transferred by giving the card number over the phone.

Rite Aid in Marlinton has a selection of gift cards, Green Dot cards and MoneyPak cards for legitimate use and convenience of its customers.

Rite Aid employees have also been trained to be on the lookout for suspicious money transfer activities.

Do not be offended if a Rite Aid employee questions your intention; they are just trying to prevent their neighbors from making a bad decision.

A Rite Aid employee asked that a warning be added to this article regarding another scam.

People are receiving calls and letters saying they’ve won a large amount of money, but must send several hundred dollars before the money can be transferred to their account.

As the saying goes, “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” Do not fall for this scam.

Meanwhile West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey alerts consumers to a new version of the notorious grandparent scam, a disturbing twist already responsible for two West Virginians losing more than $200,000.

Both victims received a call from a man pretending to be their grandson. The caller, following the usual script, claims to have been arrested and in need of bail money. However, in the new twist he gives the phone to a so-called attorney and requests that cash be mailed inside a magazine.

A Raleigh County consumer reports having mailed more than $185,000 over three to four weeks, while West Virginia State Police say someone in Tucker County sent almost $15,000 before growing suspicious. 

“This week’s news is incredibly disturbing,” Morrisey said. “Scammers will go to great lengths to steal your hard-earned money. Everyone must take note and remain on guard for such phone calls. You can never be too cautious.” 

More general versions of the grandparents scam involve a caller who claims to be out of the state or country and in dire need of money due to an emergency. It often surfaces during vacation season and when students head off to college. 

Scammers rely on the good-will of grandparents to shield grandchildren from potential punishment. This may result in those receiving such calls deciding not to check with the child’s parents.

Consumers can follow these tips to avoid becoming a victim: 

• Stay calm and don’t react out of immediacy.

• Get a call-back number.

• Call the grandchild’s known number or other family members to see if there really is an emergency.

• Ask the caller questions that only the grandchild would know.

• Never send cash through the mail.

• Never give bank routing numbers or credit card numbers to anyone via phone.

• Be skeptical of any request for a wire transfer or to use a pre-paid debit card, regardless of who the requestor says they are.

• Do not wire money until a third party verifies the alleged child really is in trouble. Check local jails and/or hospitals.

Consumers who believe they have been the victim of this scam can call the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or visit www.wvago.gov

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