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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Satz, CFP®, MPAS® CRPC®, AWMA®

Phishing For Gift Cards

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Scammers are continuing to find new and complex ways to steal your hard-earned money, even when it comes to exposing the most vulnerable in our society to the current pandemic. A scam that is picking up a lot of steam recently is a spin-off of the gift card scam. Here is how it works:

The scam starts off with receiving an email stating that your credit card was charged $400 (or any other amount in that ballpark) for extended computer services. This email could look very real and may even appear it came from a legitimate company or website.

There is a note in the email that states if you do not want the services, please call the 800 number for a refund. The victim calls the number and the person on the other line claims they will give you an instant refund to your bank account, but you must first log in to your bank so they can make a connection with their bank (They throw out a name like TD or Chase to make it sound more legitimate). They also ask that you allow them to see your screen by giving you a link to a legitimate sounding website that you have to put a code into. Once they see your screen they tell you they are making the connection from their bank to your bank and you will see your screen go black momentarily. Once they block you from seeing your screen, they change the website code of your bank (this is very easy to do) to make it appear they have completed the transfer to you.

The scam starts here, where they claim they made a huge mistake and put in an extra 0 and instead of sending you $400, they sent $4,000 and their bank account is now frozen. They sound panicked and say they will lose their job if you don’t help them. The way they want you to help them is by going out to Target, or Best Buy and buying gift cards in the amount of $3,600 – the “overpayment” they made to you. Once you have the cards you give them the numbers and pins and they now can sell these on the black market. Once you log back into your bank, you will see the code they changed reverts back to the actual amount in your account and you have just been scammed out of $3,600.

PLEASE do not connect your computer with anyone, share credit card or bank info, or even respond to an email, pop-up on the internet, or phone call that seems even remotely off. Only provide sensitive information when you initiate a call to either your credit card company using the phone number on the back of your card, or your local bank using they published phone number. Here is a list of other scams to be aware of


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