A new scam is hitting the Valley, and it involves prepaid Green Dot debit cards.
"(Scammers) just take them off the shelf and walk out of the store," explained Sgt. Steve Martos with the Phoenix Police Department.
After leaving the store, those responsible for this swindle replace the back barcode with a sticker that has another barcode printed on it. Martos said that barcode links to an account that the scammers have already opened.
Afterwards, the cards are replaced in the store, and then scammers wait until someone purchases one, activates it and loads the account with money.
"Unbeknownst to the consumer they will come by, and they will get the card that has the false barcode on it. They'll then load that card with money," Martos said.
He said unless you know what you're looking for, it's hard to spot a card that's been tampered with. He said the easiest way is to feel the back of the card. If the barcode is smooth, it's an original. However, if you feel a sticker on the back, it's a good indicator the Green Dot card has been altered.
"It seems very crude in nature when you look at it and you figure out what it is, but again it seems to be working," he said.
Phoenix police have not had anyone file a complaint. They discovered this rip-off while investigating another crime.
"We don't know how big this is. We don't know how many people have been scammed by this. This is fairly new to us," explained Martos.
Some online review boards have postings that seem to point to a problem with Green Dot cards. Martos said unless someone filed a complaint with police, it's hard to investigate the problem.
"In order for us to do something and be able to locate or investigate this type of incident, we need victims to come forward and say, 'I want to prosecute,'" he said.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.