How the scam works:
(with explanatory videos below) Ukash vouchers are very useful and convenient legitimate cards that people in 33 countries use everyday. They consist of a 19-digit code and can be used for both shops and online purchases.
The great thing about a Ukash voucher is that users don’t even need to have a bank account or a credit card in order to buy one for the amount desired. It is cash on a serial number.
However, scammers have come up with criminal strategies to victimize people, taking advantage of the convenience of the voucher. There are five variations of the Ukash scam:
Variation 1: Offered Loan(with video below)
Scammers impersonate loan companies willing to help you with cash. In order to get your loan you are required to pay fees for transactions and insurance. The company will justify that by saying they want to ensure you are not a criminal trying to get the money and run.
Watch the video below to see in detail how the prepaid card scam variation 1 occurs - not only with Ukash cards, but also with Vanilla Reload or Green Dot MoneyPak.
Variation 2: Awards, lottery, prizes
Scammers call hundreds of households per day with various fake offers, sweepstakes and prizes – and give the recipients the whole speech about “not needing a credit card or debit card to redeem it”. Typically, the fraudsters require the 'winner' to pay only a small 5% of the whole amount, representing an 'admin fee'.
“We only take Ukash cards, for the safety of our customers”, they might say. Relieved by the fact that they don’t need to provide personal info or bank account numbers, several victims give their card code for phony registration fees, fines, or any other redeemable prizes.
Variation 3: Purchasing stuff on eBay, Craigslist, Gumtree, etc.
Whatever item scammers “sell” on these sites, they require the payments via Ukash, persuading the victims to load money into their card and then to send along the serial number. If you do that, your card will be emptied almost instantaneously. Justifying this, scammers come up with a good reason for requesting the payment. “I just got my wallet stolen and had to cancel all my accounts, sorry for the inconvenience”.
Variation 4: TV Channels upgrade
The scam involves calls to customers, offering every channel DirecTV offers for only $365, or a dollar a day, for a year. The customer is even offered a free preview of all the channels as “proof” that the caller is really from DirecTV. The victims, now with the proof they were looking for, agree to the terms of payment, which involves using Ukash to transfer the money to the “company” for the additional channels.
The caller tricks the victim into giving his DirecTV account information. Another accomplice in his gang then calls DirecTV and pretends to be the customer asking for an immediate upgrade to all channels. Therefore, when the customer wants proof, they are able to offer it by showing accessibility to all channels.
The scammers will tell the victim that they will be out in a few days to complete the upgrade. Of course, no one shows up.
Variation 5: Adding credit to your card (with video below)
This variation itself has two ways of unfolding:
a. If you are an avid Twitter or Instagram user, you might notice tempting posts (or comments posted on purpose on celebrity pictures, so millions of people can see them) stating: "Real People Making Real Money Guaranteed" or "How I Will Make You Money Quick". The scam is mostly aimed at teenagers, who are naive, need money, and actually click on the links provided to follow the instructions.
This particular scam was pulled by an Instagram user named "MAKEUMONEY_CHRISS" who had his profile full of pictures of him holding a lot of cash and promising to create the same wealth for you. A phone number was provided, as well as several fake testimonials from others who apparently benefited from his services.
As soon as those interested in "making money guaranteed" called Chris - who by the way, is probably long gone now, most likely using a different username - he explains how will generate them cash. He instructs the caller to purchase a Ukash and debit card, then add money to it. The owner of the card has to scratch off the back, and give him the security PIN. By doing so, it gives him access to all the money on the card. But wait, here is how he says he'll make you money:
"I have a specific computer software that I use. Once I access your Ukash account, and the time on the receipt when the card was purchased, I'm gonna simply add zeroes in the system. Once I add a zero to that amount, it's going to turn hundreds into thousands. It's going to cost you $50 per card" says the scammer. Basically, the crook admits to jailbreak the system, but the victims don't mind, as long as they are promised to make money.
The issue is, once users give away the PIN on the back of the card, scammers wipe and steal the money linked to the card. Not only the victims lose all the money transferred to the card, but another $50 sent to the scammer beforehand.
b. The second way you can get scammed by this variation is when the criminal impersonates somebody working for Ukash or any other reloadable card (Vanilla Reload, Green Do/MoneyPak). Watch the video below to see a victim explaining exactly how she got scammed.
How to avoid:
Never give your Ukash serial number to anybody. Ukash is… cash. You give it away…it is gone. Internet software might be a beautiful thing, but don't be naive. Money are not made that easy. You should never do illegal things anyway. On the other hand, you can't win a lottery you never entry for. Always refuse to pay somebody you never seen before with the reloadable card.
However, keep in mind that the same scam could pulled by criminals not just asking you to use Ukash, but other reloadable cards as well. Treat these cards like cash - you give it away, you won't have it anymore.
If the transaction is local (and you should only do local when selling on Craigslist), always ask for cash. If it is through paypal, tell the buyer he can pick up the item as soon as you have accepted the Paypal payment, and not before.
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