KUSA - There is a new way to scam people looking for holiday presents online. It involves pre-paid money packs or reload cards, which are usually used to reload pre-paid debit cards.
Melissa Pride wanted a furry friend that could also serve as an unofficial mascot at the school where she works; instead she ended up losing hundreds of dollars to a scam.
"I wanted to get a small breed of dog," Pride said.
Pride thought she found the right pet, a Boston terrier, by responding to an ad on a dog breeder website. The ad's poster said her dad had died, and she needed to give away the dogs from his breeding business.
"She wasn't going to charge me for the dog," Pride said. "She was really excited. She just wanted me to cover the cost of shipping the dog."
That seemed like a good deal, but ended up to be a costly mistake.
The alleged shipper told Pride she must pay for the pup's travel expenses using a REloadit Pack. Reloadit is one brand of money pack, which can be purchased at local stores and used to add money to prepaid debit cards.
It wasn't until after Pride sent a picture of the card's secret code that she realized there was never a real puppy for sale. By then, the man, who claimed to be the shipper, had transferred the money to other cards.
"I told the man he's a liar and a thief and don't call me and don't email me again because the $350 you got out of me is the last money you are going to receive," Pride told 9Wants to Know.
"The consumer needs to take the time to do the research, especially if they are doing it out of state," said Chief Deputy State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.
Coffman says visit a breeder in person, if possible. You can also check the company's history with a state licensing agency or the Better Business Bureau. Call the number listed on the company's website and ask lots of questions. Coffman says buyers can also ask sellers to send additional pictures of the animal.
Coffman warns all holiday shoppers to be skeptical online. She says reloadable money packs can be convenient, but they are as untraceable as cash.
"If the person who loads the card and gives the number to a person they are doing business with, that money can be gone in a blink of the eye," said Coffman. "There is no way to recover it."
REloadit offers this consumer advice on its website:
• REloadit should ONLY be used to reload your prepaid cards or for accounts that YOU control.
• Beware of deals or opportunities that seem too good to be true.
• Beware of any offers that do not accept a VISA or MasterCard payment and asks for you to purchase a REloadit Pack where you provide the REloadit Pack number and PIN in an email or over the phone.
• Never use a REloadit Pack to pay for taxes or fees on foreign lottery winnings, grants, or any offer that requires you to pay first before getting something back.
• Beware of websites requesting REloadit Pack numbers and PIN's as payment.
• Remember: Guard your REloadit Pack like cash! Transactions cannot be reversed, so only give the number to a trusted recipient. Blackhawk is not responsible for the quality or non-receipt of any goods or services.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud, you can call 1-800-222-4444 to file a consumer complaint with the Colorado State Attorney General.
Colorado Attorney General offers internet shopping safety tips
AARP offers tips to avoid reload/money pack scams
DefendYourDollars.org helps identify scams
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