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The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Prepaid Problems

CINCINNATI (WKRC) -- Pre-paid Green Dot cards are a popular alternative for people who do not like to put their credit card information on the internet.  

You can buy them at several stores, cash only and no questions asked.  Its a way to transfer money from one place to another.  But, it's also an easy way to get ripped off.

For this story we have to go back to 1949 and the polio epidemic.  It crippled thousands of once active, healthy children.  7-year-old John Parlin was one of them.  One arm was deformed by the disease.  Delayed effects came later in life such as the weakness in his right leg.

A top of the line NU Step Cross Trainer is recommended to strengthen his arm and leg, but at a price.

"Priced it now, $4,500 delivered and uncrated," John Parlin said.

Then on Craig's List and there it was! And it was such a deal, 1,250 dollars for a slightly used NU Step.  The email at the top even said, "Cincinnati."  But still something gnawed at this educated man.

"I was uncomfortable," John said, "If something is too good to be true it probably is, with each step I said, 'Am I getting scammed?'"

An exchange of emails with someone named Miranda included a very official Ebay document that said payment must be sent by MoneyPak.  It also said Miranda has a 2,000 dollar deposit in an Ebay account to protect against fraud.  John felt a little better.

He said, "I received this payment instructions on a form with Ebay colors.  I was wondering why using Ebay with MoneyPak instead of PayPal good question, good question."

John bought three cards to pay for the NU Step and its delivery.  He scratched off the backs and sent Miranda the account numbers.  He may as well have sent her money.  Miranda promised to ship the next day.
 John waited and waited.  He searched Craig's List in the Denver area for other NU Steps, he found the exact same picture again of the exercise bike on the same hardwood floor.

Detective Kelly Macbeth found the bike John bought still for sale on Craig's List in ten other cities.  And she only searched major cities.

"It's the same thing in Dallas, Houston, Idaho, California; same advertisement," Detective Macbeth said.

She tracked John's Green Dot cards, sort of, money from his cards was transferred to other money cards and spent.  Purchases were made with the cards at a CVS in San Diego, California.

Cosgrove says MoneyPaks are a legitimate took, if you are putting money into a PayPal account for example.  But it is also a good tool for thieves.

"It's pretty alarming the amount of money stolen through these financial tools."

You can pay cash for cards at several stores including Walgreens.  Once you scratch off the back and use the number to buy something the store is not responsible for how you spend the money.

"If you don't know the person just ask yourself, 'Would you be comfortable spending money in an envelope?'  If the answer is no don't give the money on the numbers on the back of this card."

John Parlin admits he ignored warnings on the back of the Green Dot cards and on Craig's List when he ordered the elliptical he never received.   John ended up buying a NU Step, he paid full price.  He never got the one that seemed to goo to be true because it was.




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