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Debit-card scam costs local person

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A scam involving reloadable debit cards already has cost one Bartholomew County resident several hundred dollars, police said.

Many more south-central Indiana residents may have fallen victim to similar phone scams but are too embarrassed to report it, according to Chief Deputy Maj. Todd Noblitt of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

“This type of scam that has victims wiring or transferring money has plenty of variations and nuances,” Noblitt said. “But I can almost guarantee people in Bartholomew County are being contacted on a daily basis.”

North Vernon resident Don Robinson received a call Wednesday informing him he had won $2.5 million and a new Mercedes. The Jennings County man was told by a caller “with a very heavy accent” that all Robinson had to do to receive his windfall was to purchase a MoneyPak — a reloadable debit card, Robinson said.

Robinson was told to put $499 on the card, and later provide the caller with a code number that would supposedly give a delivery company authorization to deliver the Mercedes and the money.

“I played along with him to the end and told him I would go to Walmart to buy a card,” Robinson wrote.

During subsequent calls in which the caller unsuccessfully attempted to get the code, Robinson was able to determine the call was originating in Kingston, Jamaica.

Spokesmen for the Columbus Police Department and the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department say they have not received recent reports on this scam, although CPD Lt. Matt Myers said these type of calls were made to Columbus residents more than a year ago.

But about three weeks ago, one Bartholomew County resident informed the sheriff’s department he lost $500 in a very similar scam.

“As soon as that person did it, he began having second thoughts,” Noblitt said.

“He tried to stop the transfer, but the money had already been picked up.”

While the elderly and poor used to be targeted, people of all ages are now losing hundreds of dollars to these scammers, Noblitt said.

“In these scams, there is no opportunity to win anything,” Noblitt said.

“All you are doing is giving your money to a criminal that we will never catch.”

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