In a recent twist to online scams, fraudsters are adopting a strategy that plays on the trust between friends. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued a warning after their own staff nearly fell victim to this con.
Here's how the scam works:
You receive an email that appears to be from a friend or family member, asking for a simple favor. The message seems harmless and casual, resembling a typical message from a friend. The scammer often ends the message with a touch of authenticity, like "Sent from my iPhone."
Concerned about your friend, you respond, and the scammer quickly explains they need help purchasing a gift card for a niece's birthday while traveling. They request you buy the card from a local grocery store and assure you they'll repay you upon their return.
The catch is, if you comply and purchase the gift card, the scammer will then ask you to share the card's PIN or send a photo of the back. By doing so, you essentially hand over money to the scammer. Retrieving the money becomes challenging as gift cards lack the protections of credit or debit cards.
How to avoid similar scams
To avoid falling victim to similar scams, the BBB recommends reaching out to your friend directly through a call or text to verify unusual requests. Regardless of how harmless the story may seem, it's crucial to double-check before sending money.
Additionally, the BBB advises using caution when dealing with individuals who insist on payment through gift cards. Sharing the numbers from the back of a gift card is equivalent to sending cash and should be avoided.
For more tips on avoiding scams and understanding how scammers exploit gift cards, refer to the BBB's full alert. To report scams, whether or not you've suffered a financial loss, visit BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can play a crucial role in helping others steer clear of falling victim to scams.