I had a $500 MoneyPak stolen via hacker. I have some information. Can I catch em'?
October 31, 2012 10:19 AM   Subscribe

A hacker redeemed my MoneyPak after viewing the scanned copy on my computer. They cashed it immediately via internet. Can I pursue a claim to obtain details and press charges?

I was trying to make an exchange (for BitCoins, a digital currency) via IRC - an instant messaging program. I believe my computer was compromised in some way via the website's personal IRC client and the hacker deposited a MoneyPak of mine based on the scanned copy. (Always keep a back up, right?)

The card has a magnetic strip so if the hacker just entered the numbers. They must have gone into a digital account of a company MoneyPak works with, because they have to communicate to transfer the funds to that institution.

Within six hours (I had just scanned it before trying to use it) I reported it stolen, as the balance went from $500 to $0. MoneyPak said they'll try to find out where the money went. I have the receipt to prove I'm the owner and it's unlikely the hacker can defend that he/she could have bought it unless they're near me, where I purchased it.

Here's the information I will have - please tell me if you think it will be possible to personally identify him/her and press charges:

*The account the money was deposited in (pre-paid Visa/Mastercard, PayPal, phone company or other utility, etc.)
*Their IP address (I began chatting with him via a forum meant for these exchanges and the moderator has agreed to release that information to the police.)
*Their Gmail account

Is it likely the police can subpoena account transaction details (MoneyPak and the deposit account) as well as billing details from the ISP that corresponds to the IP address? Presumably this would be enough evidence to press charges.

Losing the money is irritating but at this point I want this resolved because these firms should be more accountable when the resources necessary for a solution are available to them.

Thanks for reading!
posted by aca.int to Law & Government (7 answers total)
My credit card information was stolen and used by a guy who wanted Dick Enhancement Pills. I had his name, address, phone number, email address. The credit card gave me my money back, but I had to do a fraud hold on my account, report it to the police in my jurisdiction and the guy, nothing happened to him. Nothing at all.

He's in Ohio, growing his dick. And all I got was a bunch of aggravation.

So you can go through all the motions, and the issuing card company may give you your money back, but chances are the person who lifted your code won't be punished.

It's unsatisfying to say the least.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:24 AM on October 31, 2012

My suspicion would be that you're going to be out of luck. (And $500.) I suspect MoneyPak is going to be a lot like PayPal, trying their best -not- to be a bank, and thus not regulated by the same consumer protection laws that you would be covered by with a bank draft, credit card, or other similar thing. Add to that that for $500, the appropriate investigative agencies aren't even going to give you the time of day, you're probably going to hit a wall really fast. Probably doubly fast if you make mention of BitCoins in the process. Sorry.
posted by jferg at 10:39 AM on October 31, 2012

Response by poster: Interesting. I'm wondering if MoneyPak will claim less liability seeing as.. well.. they market themselves as being free of liability up front.

I guess that's a question in itself - do pre-paid cards have the legal right to disown responsibility?

For five hundred bucks I'll gladly go through the motions - I don't care what happens to him or his dick, I just want my money.
posted by aca.int at 10:40 AM on October 31, 2012

The police don't subpoena information. That is something an attorney would do. The prosecutor might be able to do that sort of thing, but you need to be able to show evidence that a crime was committed (beyond just you saying so) or they aren't going to get involved.

Do you have anything, besides your say so, that shows that you didn't buy a MoneyPak and give it to whoever cashed it?

From the MoneyPak FAQs:

What happens if I lose my MoneyPak?

You should treat the money on the MoneyPak the same way you treat the cash in your wallet. Once the MoneyPak is lost there is no way for us to trace and recover the money.
posted by doomtop at 10:43 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I doubt you will have much luck, which is a bummer.

Credit cards are protected by regulation Z and some electronic transactions (such as debit cards) are protected by regulation E. MoneyPak has no corresponding protection at the federal level. Regulation E protections on unauthorized use have not been extended to prepaid accounts (except some that work with the Treasury in specific ways, but that's not the case here). Without these protections, you're stuck with your state criminal law and you won't have much luck with such a low amount.

If MoneyPak provides you with info (and they may not) you would need to press charges against the individual - if you can find him or her. If they are not in-state, your local police will do little. Even if they are in-state, $500 is not a ton of money and unless this is part of a larger operation (and you have tons of proof and the police care, etc) they will ask you to fill out some paperwork and never follow-up.

If this were an unauthorized use of your credit or debit card, you'd have a much easier time getting your money back.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:51 PM on October 31, 2012

Also, the info on a magnetic stripe of a credit card is the same as what's on the front and back (just front for AmEx). There's no encrypted data or anything. Just the # and CVV. I suspect this is true for MoneyPak (I have a USB card reader, I may grab one and check it out). So the fact that they had a picture of the card and not the magstripe - well, that doesn't change anything.

Anyone can sign up for a Stripe or Braintree account (or any payment processor) and enter the numbers manually themselves. This will charge your card (and if they knew the amount they probably just submitted a bill for $500) and enter their account.

MoneyPak probably won't bother contacting their payment processor to figure out who signed up, so I suspect you won't find the person.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:57 PM on October 31, 2012

Response by poster: Everyone is playing with my emotions! No, it's just funny that I'm getting a lot of 'well this is the reality of the situation' from fellow consumers in real life and online whereas GreenDot and the police have been very optimistic.

They're presently 'investigating' the use of the card and they encouraged my police report. Apparently with a police report, they can step over some boundaries and gather more information. They can also share limited information with me. So pressing charges would be a possibility, no?

File small claims against John Jerkoff in New Mexico while the plaintiff is here on the Eastern Seaboard. Wouldn't John come to my jurisdiction, where the item in question is? And then he doesn't show because a flight plus a lawyer means just return what you stole and try to end it as cheaply as possible.

I'm delusional, huh? I still argue that MoneyPak can't just scoff liability and defend themselves with 'nosa, I called it.' Does a daycare receive your child and retain indemnity of a kidnapping because their terms said they will watch over children to the best of their ability? No, not if safeguards weren't put in place. What gets me is that these cards are exclusively without warranty. As Allen said, they're in a class of their own.


TL;DR Read the first two lines and then picture me huddled, sobbing in Braveheart makeup and hair. That's basically what this has come down to.
posted by aca.int at 7:38 AM on November 1, 2012

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