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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Gift card scam red flags

Unverifiable lies are the hallmark of a scammer. In today's world of online anonymity, social media and internet interaction, it's no wonder gift card scams have become such an epidemic problem. You may have noticed when you go to purchase a gift card, a warning sometimes appears on the payment card machine stating your intent may have been manipulated by a fraudulent third party.

Scam 1: Pre-Scratched cards

If you receive a card that is be pre-scratched, be weary. It may be used to track your spending or worse steal the money before you have a chance to use it. According to Consumer Reports, this is a pre-meditated scam where the scammers tear the card's packaging to reveal the scratch off code, then re-seal card packets before sales to the purchaser. After buying the card, the scammer is notified of the card activation and redeems the card before anything can be bought by the intended recipient.

Scam 2: Fraudulent Psychic

If a seemingly all-knowing alleged psychic needs you to send them gift cards for energy clearing, Chakra healing, demon removal, past life closing, crystal work or anything that didn't work the first time you gave them money, run for the hills fast. Don't fall for emotional blackmail, psychological manipulation or any other trick they use to coerce you. According to Bob Nygaard, per the Miami Times, fake psychics will say anything to get your money. Don't believe them no matter how desperate and emotionally vulnerable you are. Especially, if they tell you telling other people will ruin their work!

Scam 3: Dating site friend in need

You know that new best friend you just made on an Internet dating site? They might actually be your worst nightmare. What started out really well, like a great connection and an amazing rapport with a complete stranger could be another gift card scam. If all of a sudden, they need help for some family tragedy, or to get money to be with you or even to pay for their bills, this too could be a scam. Warning signs include a rapid escalation of friendship, quick confession of love, inability to confirm identity by any means, and illusive, non-traceable gift card request, you might be dealing with a fake love. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2016, $220 million was lost due this type of scam. 

Scam 4: Gift card phone scams

Another way thieves steal gift cards from unsuspecting consumers is via false identity phone schemes. For example, according to the Internal Revenue Service, a surge in phone scams seeking iTunes gift cards as recompense for late tax payments is on the rise. What's more, iTunes and Amazon gift cards are more difficult to trace and can be converted or traded for Bitcoins to avoid arrest or being tracked. Anything that can't be proven, confirmed or verified via another method should be a significant warning sign. 

Unfortunately, scammers are a dime a dozen and pray on vulnerable, unsuspecting and unprotected individuals who oftentimes, want nothing but the best for others. What motivates these people varies, it could be financial need, criminal intent, lack of empathy, and even genuine need. It is quite common for scammers to weave the truth in to their lies to rope their victims in. Whatever the reasons, misrepresentation of themselves and their motives to others for money is a scam. They will try to get you to convince yourself otherwise and hide the real truth with false claims and sweet smelling lies. 

All images from Pixabay, Licensed via Creative Commons