In light of a new, illicit hustle that’s been occurring in the Santa Clarita Valley, Sheriff’s Station officials want to remind the public of a popular adage: If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.
“The most recent scam has developed this year, involving Dish Network and other utility companies,” said Deputy Josh Dubin of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
The swindle involves local residents being asked to purchase Green Dot, a prepaid credit card, in order to upgrade their TV service.
The elaborate ruse has led residents to purchase a card after someone calls up and pretends to be a representative of a cable or a utility company.
Offering a promotion if more service is paid for, the victims are told to purchase a Green Dot card, because the special deal is part of a cross-promotion with the prepaid service, Dubin said.
One victim, when asked to verify that he was talking to the actual company, was given a different phone number, who the victim then dialed. The victim spoke with a separate suspect, who was also pretending to be a cable service employee.
“It’s important to remember that most companies will not call you and ask you for your personal information,” Dubin said. “If you are asked for this information, and if you suspect the person asking for your information is not legitimate, you should always hang up and call the company back on the number they have listed on their official website.”
After more than $700 was purchased on a Green Dot card, the victim then was asked to give the account information of the recently purchased prepaid card to the “company representative.”
The thief posted the money to the victim’s account with the TV service to temporarily turn on services for the customer, furthering the scam’s credibility in the eyes of the victim.
After the money was posted to the customer’s account, it was then quickly withdrawn by the thieves, who left the unsuspecting victim without the hundreds of dollars and an increased bill for cable services that were turned on before the money was taken out of the account.
Sheriff’s Station officials have fielded multiple reports of these types of incidents, which have been springing up with more frequency over the last “60-90 days,” Dubin said.
“For some time now, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station has continued outreach efforts aimed at keeping the public informed about crimes,” Dubin said, “and how to avoid falling victim to scam artists.”