Scammer takes advantage of cold weather - WNEM TV 5

Scammer takes advantage of cold weather

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A scammer took advantage of this week's freezing weather to steal $600 from a family, police said Wednesday.

A woman called a Franklin home on Tuesday and pretended to be with the electric company, Sgt. Charlie Warner with Franklin Police said in an e-mail.

The caller said that the electricity would be cut off unless $300 was paid using a Green Dot MoneyPak card.

Given the sub-freezing temperatures overnight, the family moved quickly to pay the fee and keep their heat on. The victim went to a drugstore, bought the money card and provided the PIN to the scammer, Warner said.

When the first transaction went through, the scammer demanded another $300. Money was moved off both cards before the victim realized what had happened.

Middle Tennessee Electric never calls to demand money over the phone, and customers should always call their utility directly if they are unsure, police said.

MoneyPak cards have emerged as a popular and untraceable way for scammers to take money from victims.

In a scheme last year, victims were told they had won Publishers Clearing House, but would first have to pay taxes using a card.

Green Dot already warns customers that a card number should only be shared with approved businesses. If anyone else asks for the number or information from a store receipt, it's likely a scam.

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