Glendale police are teaming up with convenience and drugstore owners to combat scams where victims are pressured into buying prepaid Moneypak cards to pay off callers posing as government or utility company agents.
Victims of the scam have lost anywhere between several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars in recent months and, earlier this week, a relative of a local police officer was close to being conned until a CVS employee stepped in.
In April, Officer Tino Saloomen reached out to managers at CVS and Rite Aid to warn them of signs of someone being scammed.
He also said the city is in the process of making small signs to be displayed on Moneypak and gift card kiosks with verbiage warning of suspicious phone calls.
Saloomen said on Tuesday, his 37-year-old sister-in-law received a phone call from a scammer posing as an IRS agent claiming her 2002 taxes were audited and discrepancies had been found. The fake agent told her she had to pay $1,000.
She was told she could make a partial payment of $500 and had to do so by purchasing a Green Dot Moneypak card, Saloomen said. She wrote down the words IRS and an account number on a piece of paper then headed to the Rite Aid on Glendale Avenue and grabbed a Moneypak card, he said.
But while at the register, there was an issue with her debit card.
"Another employee, possibly a supervisor, saw this and also noticed she had a piece of paper with IRS and some account number information written on it," Saloomen said. "The person inquired about the reason for the Green Dot purchase and told my sister-in-law it was a scam."
In June, a Glendale man was bilked out of $11,500 after people posing as immigration agents contacted him and threatened him jail time. But it's not just people at their homes that are being targeted.
In March, Saloomen said he responded to an incident where the owner of Mini Kabob was contacted at his business by someone posing as a Glendale Water & Power employee, warning the victim of an unpaid $349 bill.
Locally, Moneypak cards can only be found at CVS, Rite Aid, 7-Eleven and Walgreens stores.
Saloomen said he plans on contacting more convenience and drugstores and looks forward to having warning display signs being issued by the city.
Some stores, like the CVS at 1122 Broadway, already have signs placed atop their gift card kiosks in English and Spanish to never share Moneypak pin numbers with strangers.