Stafford resident Philip Morales never heard of Speeddate.com, an online site, until a charge from it scraped more than $150 off his debit card.
The company behind his prepaid debit card sent him a text message last Sunday to inform him of the $155.40 charge. When he checked his statement online, he saw it was made by Speeddate.com.
He called Speeddate to have the fraudulent charge refunded. But the representative told him the transaction seemed legitimate. “We have a no-return policy,” Morales was told.
It was a bit shocking, frankly. But Morales contacted Press on Your Side for help. “I have a no-don’t-rob-me policy,” he said later.
Morales, 68, uses a RushCard, a prepaid debit card, to pay his bills. Retired, his Social Security check is deposited directly to the card.
That mean he notices, and is careful about, withdrawals. Suffice to say, the $155 charge caught his attention: “When you are living on skimpy money like me, it just doesn’t slip by,” he said.
Where’s his refund?
Speeddate, which is owned by Match.com, bills itself as a online speed dating site. It says a subscriber can meet up to 15 other singles per hour.
“I have no idea who they are,” Morales said. “I have been with the same woman for 25 years. I have no reason to contact a dating service.”
While Speeddate would not give a refund, the representative did cancel the account, Morales said.
But the charge was fraudulent and Morales said he wanted a refund. “They put me in jeopardy of not being able to pay my car insurance or not being able to pay my electric bill,” he said.
Press on Your Side suggested that Morales report the charge to RushCard, which restored his money while the company investigated. He also is being sent a new card with a new number.
Meanwhile, we contacted Match.com and told a representative about Morales’ experience. The response was quick.
“First, I’d like to apologize if there was any misunderstanding regarding the situation reported,” wrote Sarah, a customer support escalations specialist for Speeddate, in an email to Press on Your Side.
“Although our privacy policies prevent us from discussing specific details, I am happy to report that we have taken appropriate action based on the information you have provided,” she wrote. “If Mr. Morales would like further information, we ask that he please contact us directly.”
Morales called Speeddate back and found out his refund was being processed. “I have the account right in front of me and that money has been returned,” he was told by a representative.
How did it happen?
So what happened? How did someone get a hold of Morales’ prepaid debit card number?
It’s hard to tell, but what happened to Morales a few months ago might provide a big clue.
A hacker hit his computer, encrypting and locking him out of every file on his hard drive. It’s called ransomware, and the hackers demanded $1,000 to open up his files so he could access them. “Your files have been encrypted. All files right now are useless to you,” a pop-up message said.
Another message instructed him to send $1,000 to a bank account in Zurich.
His friend, a computer technician, was unable to free his files. Morales refused to pay the ransom and had the hard drive removed from the computer, but the damage already was done. “Somehow they got my email address, my home address, passwords,” he said.
And, possibly, his RushCard number.
Do you have a consumer problem that needs solving? Contact David P. Willis at 732-643-4042, firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/dpwillis732.