Niagara police warn about fake gift card scams

gift card scam Photo Credit: BigStock

The Niagara Regional Police Service issued a warning about frauds involving the purchasing of gift cards.

The scam works by the victims receiving emails or texts from scammers pretending to be someone they know and asking them to purchase gift cards. The scammer then asks that the victim to scratch the back of the gift cards and send them the information on the back so the funds can be used without having the card. Always be wary of anyone asking for gift cards, Bitcoin or anything unusual as a form of payment or financial assistance. Scammers are able spoof emails and phone numbers so they can pretend to be someone the victim knows.

Here are a few reminders from police on how to avoid these scams:

  • Never purchase gift cards as a form of payment.
  • If you receive a phone call, email or text message instructing you to purchase gift cards, this is a scam.
  • If you purchase the gift cards and are told to scratch the backside and send codes, this is a scam.
  • Remember that scammers are able to “spoof” the phone number on the Caller ID, so it may appear that the caller is your financial institution, Canada Revenue Agency, or your local police service, when it actually is not.
  • Talk to someone you trust before making any decisions related to purchases of this nature. In most cases, once you tell your story to someone else you will recognize that it doesn’t sound right. This may help to prevent you from falling victim to a scam.
  • Remember why they are called gift cards – they are to be used as a gift for someone you care about, not as a form of currency to pay outstanding debts, taxes, utilities or daily living expenses.

If you have been a victim of a scam and experienced a financial loss, please call the Niagara Regional Police Service non-emergency number at 905-688-4111, dial option 2 and ask for “dispatch” to file a report.

If you received one of these calls/messages but did not experience a financial loss, please report by calling Phonebusters at 1-888-495-8501 or contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit this link. By browsing the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre website you can learn about many of the current scams.