CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Chesapeake Police are warning the public about scams related to gift cards.
According to the Chesapeake Police Department, there have been approximately 22 reported cases of scams involving the purchases of gift cards. They say victims purchased and sent scammers over $55,000 in gift cards in less than four months in 2021.
In 2020, there were over 70 cases involving gift card scams, with victims sending suspects over $245,000 in gift cards, according to a news release from Chesapeake police.
Police say the scammers convince their victims that they must be paid in gift cards for various reasons, but they always come back to the idea that the victim must go to a retail outlet, buy a gift card and then provide the PIN number on the cards to the suspects.
Most of the scams are communicated through email and text messages. When there is a phone call, police say the suspects will typically have a middle eastern accent.
Here are some examples of scams police want people to look out for:
- A call from an “Investigating Officer” or someone claiming to be from the Sheriff’s Department, investigating a case, where you have a rental car in another state, in connection to another crime. To avoid arrest, you need to send money via gift cards.
- A call from someone that identifies themselves as “Law Enforcement”. Victim’s Social Security Number has been used in another state. To avoid arrest, the victim needs to buy gift cards.
- A call from someone with the “F.B.I.” or “D.E.A.” – the caller will give the victim’s name and address and tell them they have rented a vehicle in another state and it is connected to a crime. To avoid arrest or “for it to go away”, they need to purchase gift cards.
- A call from “Black Hawk Security” or Black Water Agent”. States that the victim was part of a drug conspiracy. To avoid trouble, the victim needs to purchase gift cards.
- A call from “Your local cable / internet provider”. The victim’s internet is running slow and request access to computer. The victim will be instructed to type or download software and then will be told they owe the cable and/or internet provider money. The victim is instructed to pay the money in gift cards.
- A call, text message and/or email from an online shopping or ecommerce websites. The victim is told that their debit card is attached to another someone else’s account. Or there is Fraud on their account. Or a purchase for an item is suspected as fraud. For a fee, the caller can remove the debit card or remove the fraudulent charges. Victim is instructed to purchase gift cards.
- E-mail from “Your Anti-Virus protection” and the victim calls the number on the email. Suspect instructs the caller to buy gift cards for money owed.
- A call from “Your Bank or a Financial Institution” alleging that there is a suspicious charge on the account. To remove the suspicious charge, the victim is instructed to purchase gift cards.
- An email from “Your Bank or a Financial Institution” about suspect fraud. Victim calls the phone number on the email and was told that there was Porn and suspicious charges on their account. Victim is instructed to purchase gift cards to take care of it.
- A call from someone claiming to be with the Federal Government offering a grant for COVID-19. The grant is for $150,000.00 if the victim pays $1,500.00 in gift cards.
Chesapeake Police say gift cards continue to be the most common form of payment when people report being scammed through phone calls, texts or emails.