Recently a resident in east Volusia County reported a harrowing tale that resulted in her being scammed out of $3,000 —after a criminal convinced her she owed twice that amount and must purchase gift cards to pay her debt.
Unfortunately, she complied.
Here’s how it happened: The victim was online when a random message appeared, stating her computer had a potential virus threat, and urged her to call Microsoft at the number provided. She called and spoke to a man who advised he blocked the threat. He directed her to speak with a Bank of America “representative” and transferred her to a second individual. That person said she had two charges for $3,000 each: One was an illegal site involving poker and the other site featured child pornography.
The alarmed victim then purchased six gift cards for $500 each as instructed. After she gave the card and pin numbers to the bank “representative,” she was advised to buy six more gift cards for $500 each. Instead she went to her bank to find out what was wrong with her account. That’s when she learned she’d been scammed.
Folks, gift card scams are on the rise every day and people in our community keep becoming victims. I want you to be-come educated about this crime trend so you can protect yourselves.
In the first nine months of 2021, nearly 40,000 people reported losing $148 million in gift card scams. That’s just a fraction of the problem because fewer than 5 percent of gift card-scam victims report the crime.
Remember: Gift cards are for gifts only, not for payments! Whenever someone demands to be paid with a gift card, it’s a scam. Hang up the phone and block the number.
Here are a few examples of how such scams work:
These kinds of scams are constantly changing but one thing never changes: Whenever someone asks for payment with a gift card, they’re trying to scam you. Don’t fall for it! Please share this information with your family and friends. Victims of all ages fall for this and we want to educate everyone.
If your group or organization would like a speaker from the Volusia Sheriff’s Office to conduct a seminar about fraud and how to prevent it, please email Sgt. Elmazi at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you believe you’re a victim of a scam, call our non-emergency number: 386. 248.1777 to file an incident report. Even better, be aware and protect yourself in the first place.
Stay safe and stay smart,
Sheriff Mike Chitwood