The scammers call potential victims and claim they are set to receive money from a class action lawsuit settlement–but instead they try to get money or personal information.
Sherri Lawhon of Corpus Christi was almost a victim of this scam. Fortunately, she got suspicious and reported the scam to Your BBB.
“They’ve been calling me for about seven months,” she said. “They somehow knew about my surgery. On Friday, I got a call saying they were distributing money from the lawsuit. They made it sound so good.”
The callers claimed to be with the “FDA Distribution Center.” They tried to reassure her by saying they didn’t want access to her credit card or bank account, but wanted her to load $126 on a card they referred to as a Galaxy Bond to prove her identity. When she couldn’t find one, they told her to load money on a Green Dot MoneyPak card.
Again, they tried to reassure her by saying they didn’t need the card number. They only wanted the reference number from the paper coupon–which if she had given it out, would have let the scammers take her money.
The scam call is similar to those mentioned in a March 17, 2014 press release from the New Hampshire Attorney General and a release by the California Department of Health.
BBB offers the following tips if you receive a phone call from someone claiming to offer money from a grant or lawsuit settlement.
- Go off the call. If a caller claims to be with a government agency, find the number independently and get verification.
- Protect your money. Never wire transfer money or purchase a green dot card without verifying who is on the other line. These payment forms are the most commonly used because they cannot be traced. Green Dot MoneyPak users also need to remember that anyone they share their card number with has instant access to their funds.
- Stay private. Do not give medical or other personal information to unsolicited callers. Check your privacy settings on all your social media sites. Scammers often make their stories more believable by trolling for information on Facebook, Twitter and similar sites.
- Resist the pressure to act quickly. Don’t let a potential scammer push you into sending money before you verify the situation.
- Know where to turn. If you fall victim to a scam, report the incident immediately to local police and your state Attorney General’s office.