Between Jan 1, 2019 and July 15, 2019 the Edmonton Police Service has received 136 reports of gift card related internet scams with an overall loss of $683,001.69.
Scammers are using advanced methods to appear legitimate. Through the use of virus computer software, scammers are gaining access to personal computers and banking information after alarming victims that their credit card has been compromised.
- You receive a phone call from a scammer claiming to be a bank employee who says that your online banking has been hacked. The scammer will provide an employee number to gain your trust.
- The scammer will ask you to run a software program, which is a virus designed to provide the scammer access to your computer. After running the program, the scammer will ask you to log into your online banking. Once you log in, you’ll notice that someone is remotely accessing your computer.
- Your bank account will show two fraudulent charges on your credit card. Typically, the first charge is for EBay and the second charge is for Google Play cards.
- The scammer puts you on hold and pretends to contact Google to have the second transaction cancelled. After some time, the scammer will return to the phone and tell you that Google could only reimburse you for two set dollar values; one lower than the amount charged to your card and one that is more expensive than the amount charged to your card.
- The scammer will claim they argued with Google on your behalf to receive a full refund, but were told that you need to buy Google Play cards to make up the difference at a location provided by the scammer.
- After purchasing the gift cards at the designated location, the scammer tells you to scratch the codes on the card and send a photo to them via a designated phone number. The scammer will then ask you to remain quiet about the situation, as they are currently doing a covert operation with the RCMP.
- The scammer will deposit money into your account so you may continue to make purchases for him to assist in the investigation, as well as a small tip for your assistance. You will then be put on hold while the scammer contacts RCMP on another line.
- At a later time, you will be asked by the scammer to transfer money from your account to a designated RCMP officer via third party banking account. The scammer may also warn you that someone, who claimed to be your relative, tried to get a loan under your name.
- To prevent the loan fraud, the scammer may then transfer your funds to someone in India using a ‘Money in Minute’ service using the third party information provided by the scammer. Afterwards, you’ll be asked again to purchase gift cards at a designated location provided by the scammer.
- Following a similar protocol, the scammer will deposit more money into your account to purchase the gift cards – which is actually being pulled from your own accounts or line of credit. Once again, you’ll be asked to scratch the codes and send a photo of the codes to the scammer. The process will continue until the scammer is no longer able to convince you to send money or purchase gifts cards.
“Scammers do this for a living,” Detective Linda Herczeg explained, “This is their livelihood, so they spend all of their time building an elaborate and believable scheme. They use a real bank’s identity, including an employee number, to legitimize their story. Anyone can fall victim to these scams.”
Remember: Anyone can fall victim to these scams. Scammers do this for a living and have many people helping them build their elaborate scams. They take legitimate company and employee names and incorporate them into their scheme.
Due to public access to information and images on the internet, scammers are easily impersonating businesses and/or their employees. This is why it is important for citizens to be vigilant and recognize warning signs of a scam.
Please see our website for fraud prevention tips and additional online scam