Police warn about scam targeting Facebook users

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Frank Schultz
Tuesday, May 20, 2014

JANESVILLE—Warning local teens: That “easy money” message you got from someone you know on Facebook could be bogus.

Police are warning about a scam involving reloadable money cards that at least three Janesville teens fell for recently.

Police said two girls at Craig High School told their police liaison officer they had received a Facebook message from an acquaintance saying she could make them  “easy, legit money” if they bought a Vanilla Reloadable cash card and loaded $100 on it.

The acquaintance told them she had a relative at the company who would move the decimal point on their accounts, turning $100 into $1,000 within an hour, said Janesville police Detective Chris Buescher.

The victims were told to give the card's personal identification number, or PIN, to the acquaintance, and money would be added to the card's balance.

When the victims checked back later, the money was gone. The Facebook account and phone numbers were no longer in service.

Buescher said the girls' acquaintance lives in Janesville, but police don't think that person is responsible. They believe the acquaintance's Facebook account was hacked, or someone took her photo and profile information and created a fake Facebook page.

The wording of the Facebook messages led Buescher to believe they were from someone overseas whose native tongue is not English. They were written in poor English and mentioned stores, such as 7-11 and Rite Aid, where the cards could be bought, and those stores don't exist here, Buescher said.

Police said in an alert issued Tuesday that money stolen in such scams usually goes outside the United States and is not retrievable.

Buescher said he received a third report about a local teen with the same story, and he is worried about how widespread it could become.

“Kids nowadays have hundreds if not thousands of friends on their Facebook accounts,” Buescher noted, so police sent out the alert.

Buescher said the investigation is in its early stages.

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