RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Gift card scams are nothing new, but the variations on that scam can be.
Recently, CBS 17 learned a gift card scam that pretends to be from your boss is hitting our area and is pulling in victims.
Gift cards. They’re available almost everywhere and offer quick access to cash and that’s why scammers love gift cards.
“It is a $3.3 billion industry annually,” said Jenny Grounds of the Cybercrime Support Network.
“They’re really getting smart with how they can scam people.”
Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia discovered those criminals are using a sneaky version of the scam in our area.
It’s a text message supposedly from your superior. Many times, it will use your boss’ name, and Grounds says that’s what adds weight to the fraudulent text.
“They look as if it is coming from your boss directly,” she said. “It has the same imagery and language that your boss would typically use.”
In one case that took place recently in the Triangle, one local company was hit multiple times by a scammer pretending to be a boss.
The scammer asks the employee to do “an urgent task”— but can’t talk because he’s “heading into a presentation” — so he’ll just text instructions.
The employee is directed to a local store that sells gift cards of various denominations.
When the employee gets to the store, the message says to check with the texter to make sure the cards are the ones the so-called boss wants.
The scammer tells the employee which brand of cards and denominations he needs and asks the victim to send pictures of the codes on the back of the cards.
All the while, the scammer is sending a barrage of texts to the employee, keeping pressure on them to act now and act fast.
Once the employee has purchased the gift cards, the scammer asks them to stand by while he checks “to see they are activated.”
Once that happens, the money is gone, and the victim is out the money they spent on gift cards at the behest of “the boss.”
Experts say it works because the victim wants to be a good employee.
“You want to create a sense of, you know, responsiveness and providing good support to your employer,’’ said Grounds. “With that sense of urgency, we tend to act quickly, and we’re not really taking the time to think: is this unusual?
The Federal Trade Commission says consumers reported nearly 49,000 cases of gift card fraud in 2022, with losses totaling more than $228 million.
If you are the victim of a gift card scam, file a report with your local police department to get it on record, and report it to the FTC, your bank—or the FBI.