As more and more people catch on to the various schemes of scammers, scammers themselves are getting crafty in their craft. While you might not fall for a call from the grandkids claiming they’re in jail in Louisiana and need bail money wired right away, you might fall for the latest scam making its rounds: being paid in gift cards.
How Does it Work?
Scammers might call you or text you. According to an article on Forbes.com, if they call, they’ll pose as a representative from Apple or Amazon, or some similar big-name organization, claiming a problem with your account. The only way to “pay” to unlock your account is by sending them a snapshot of the back of a gift card. Another scheme involves a text; they might pose as your boss who is in an important meeting but asks you to purchase a gift card right away, and they need the card details ASAP. They might even reassure you that you’ll get reimbursed by the company. These scams are always very time-sensitive because the scammers know the longer you delay, the less likely they will have a payday. They hustle you along so fast it’ll make your head spin and create a pressure-packed situation.
Why Gift Cards?
Gift cards are the easiest way to leave no connection to the fraudster. Popular retailers who sell gift cards have been financially impacted by scammers who’ve used stolen credit cards to purchase gift cards. When discovered the cardholder then makes a fraud claim on their credit card and retailers take the hit. Savvy merchants have since taken steps to protect themselves from losses. Due to these scams, retailers frequently require gift card purchase to be completed using cash or debit card.
Foiled by this change, scammers got smarter. They now approach their victims via text or a phone call posing as a “busy co-worker” in a meeting who needs a gift card right away for a client, or sometimes as a company such as Apple or Microsoft asking for a gift card to pay an outstanding balance. An unsuspecting victim then purchases a gift card. The scammer asks for the number on the back of the gift card, quickly redeeming the card’s value—and boom—your money is gone. Since you made the purchase, not the scammer, the responsible party is no longer the gift card seller but yours!
The Better Business Bureau claims that by giving a scammer the number on the back of a gift card, whether by phone or with a picture in text, you’re essentially handing over free money with no way of recovering it. Gift cards are untraceable, and thus the perfect scam.
You’re unlikely to be successful in disputing this with your bank as you made the purchase.
They do this themselves at the register or online, so there is no direct trace back to the scammer.
More Info on Fraud Payments Via Cryptocurrency and Other Scams
More sophisticated scammers might text you with an offer for cryptocurrency investments with great rates of return, but for a limited time. Never respond to a cold text regarding investments.
Other scams focus on seniors because they are the most accessible population to prey upon, with plenty of time on their hands and less technologically skilled. Scammers purposefully exploit their love for family or their ignorance of paying bills via gift cards to get what they want right now. AARP.com states that never follow through if you’re called or texted to purchase a gift card for payment for a service. It is 100% a scam. No business accepts gift cards as payment, and no boss will need an immediate gift card purchase. Most scams are urgent, asking for money right now, which is a red flag.
Dating apps are also a new source of fraud. Fraudsters love preying on the vulnerability of those looking for love. If you find yourself on a dating site, be aware that those you speak to might not be who they say they are. Take extra precautions and never send a potential mate any money.
Scammers are clever, but you will avoid being taken by educating yourself on their various schemes and tactics.
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