Scammers are big fans of gift cards because they are easy to purchase, easy to send to the scammer and impossible to trace to the scammer.  It is not even necessary for the scammer to be in possession of the actual gift card to use it.  Sending the gift card numbers or taking a picture on your phone and transmitting it to the scammer is sufficient for the scammer to use the gift card to quickly buy things that can then be sold and converted into cash.  In a current gift card related scam, people are reporting receiving emails from friends who for one reason or another need you to send them gift cards to cover some necessary expenses.  Unfortunately, the email is sent to people on the contact list of a person whose email account was hacked so even though the email is coming from your friend’s email address, it was not sent by your friend, but by a scammer.  Anyone providing the gift card numbers to the scammer, as requested, soon becomes aware that he or she has been scammed and lost the gift card funds forever.

TIPS

The key to protecting yourself from this scam is to be skeptical whenever you get a request to wire money or make a payment through gift cards because once money has been wired, it is gone forever which is why it is a favorite method of payment for scammers. As for gift cards, once you provide the numbers from the gift cards, the scammers utilize the gift cards to quickly make purchases that they then sell in order to get cash.  Always confirm with a phone call the legitimacy of any request for you to send funds before you send anything.  Finally, anytime anyone approaches you with a business transaction in which you are asked to pay through gift cards, you can be confident that it is a scam.  The IRS has even had to post on its website that it does not accept gift cards as payments.

It would be helpful if more companies that sell gift cards would routinely train their employees to recognize scams and require them to ask their customers when larger gift cards are being purchased as to the reason for purchasing the gift cards.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide was recently cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”