Cecil police warn residents of money, telephone scam

Published Oct 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm (Updated Oct 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm)

Cecil Township police are warning area residents to beware of a telephone and money card scheme, which scammed a resident of more than $2,000.

The incident began Sept. 24 when a 61-year-old Cecil resident received a voice-mail message saying that he had been pre-approved for a $3,000 loan from a legitimate cash-advance operation in the state of California. The man was told that he needed to make arrangements to receive the loan.

When the man returned the call to someone who said he was an official with the cash-advance operation and identified himself in the message as Mark Forbes, he was told the loan would be deposited into the Cecil resident’s bank account, and “Mark Forbes” requested an account number.

Last week, the local man received another message from the originator of the “loan” saying he needed to purchase legitimate instruments known as MoneyPak cards to cover loan processing fees. MoneyPak, according to its website, is a “cash top-up card” that can be used to reload pre-paid cards, add money to a PayPal account without using a bank account, or make same-day payments to major companies.

The local man bought a series of MoneyPaks totaling $2,095.

The “lender” then contacted the local man and obtained the numbers on the MoneyPaks to activate them.

Green Dot MoneyPak’s website cautions, “Treat your MoneyPak number the way you treat your cash and your wallet. Never give your MoneyPak number to someone you don’t know. Beware of any offers that ... ask you to purchase a MoneyPak and provide the MoneyPak number in an email or over the phone. Transactions cannot be reversed.”

The “lender” claimed it was trying to wire the local man the $3,000 loan, but that his bank had refused to accept it. The scam artist advised the man to close his account with a Pennsylvania bank and open an account with the caller’s bank. At that point, the man became suspicious and notified police.

“Providing bank account information over the phone should raise a red flag,” Cecil Township Detective Mark Marcucci said.

Upon hearing the man’s story, the detective also questioned a $2,000 charge for processing a $3,000 loan.

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