Scam artist targeting Houstonians with Lone Star Cards

February 22, 2013 6:50:20 PM PST
State authorities say a scam artist is tricking needy Houstonians into handing over their state-assistance Lone Star Cards by luring them with free cell phones.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission says so far, two women from different parts of Houston have fallen victim to the scam. Both incidents involved a man who was handing out free cell phones from a van outside a dollar store.

The suspect is giving the phones to people with Lone Star Cards but tells them he needs their PIN to add minutes on the phones. After the victims hand over their PINS, the man keeps both their card and the note with the PIN with the promise they'll be mailed back to them once the cell phone transactions were complete.

The health department became aware of the scam when the women called to find out when they would get their cards back. By then, someone had used the cards to get the client's benefits.

People who qualify for SNAP food benefits or cash assistance get their benefits on a plastic Lone Star Card. New benefits are loaded electronically on the card each month. Clients are cautioned not to share their PIN with anyone, and state staff would not ask a client for the PIN.

HHSC's Office of Inspector General is looking into the two reports of the scam. Anyone aware of additional cases can report them to the Office of Inspector General's Houston office by calling 800-436-6184.

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