SUFFOLK, Va. - Suffolk Police are warning people about recent schemes involving gift cards.
Officials say gift card schemes are becoming more common with the increased use of technology and the convenience these cards provide to consumers. Scammers often target the elderly and/or kind-hearted people by contacting them either by phone, e-mail or social media.
Scammers will contact victims and tell them false stories involving the health or well-being of a family member. They also make up stories about the victim’s computer being locked and threaten that it cannot be accessed until paying the person who contacted them.
Another popular scheme is callers pretending to be from a utility company, telling you to pay your bill by gift card or they’ll cut off your power or water.
The scammers will then ask the victim to purchase multiple gift cards from a business like Amazon or eBay. Once the victim purchases the cards, the scammer will ask for the victim to scratch the back of the card to reveal a redemption code. Once the scammers get that code, they are able to access the funds.
Suffolk Police warn that if you are contacted by someone you think may be a scammer, do not purchase the gift cards for them. If you believe a family member is in danger, you are advised to try to contact them or the local jurisdiction where the family member resides to check on their well-being. You can also contact the Suffolk Police Department at the non-emergency number, 757-923-2350, and speak with an officer.
If you've already paid a scammer with the gift card, contact the company on the gift card and advise them of the scam. You can also refer to the Federal Trade Commission website for further information and contact numbers for various large companies.