Email Gift Card Scam Targeting Local Governments

December 2nd, 2019

The information below is provided by Coursevector.

With everyone purchasing gifts and gift cards during the holiday season, we wanted to post a reminder about email gift card scams. If someone emails (even if it looks like a legitimate email from a familiar email address), do not purchase and send gift cards to them online. Scammers can hack email and send from a legitimate email address, or they can spoof an email address and make it look like an email is coming from a legitimate, familiar email address.

Sometimes they will ask you to buy the gift cards and call them to give the numbers over the phone. Sometimes they may ask you to send gift card numbers via email. Either way – DO NOT BUY GIFT CARDS FOR SOMEONE IN RESPONSE TO AN EMAIL REQUEST!

Here is a recent example of an email one of our clients received requesting gift cards.

“Please I’d like to ask you for a favor, i need to get a gift card but I can’t do this now because I’m not feeling well. I’ve got the flu and I tried purchasing online but unfortunately no luck with that. Can you get it from any store around you? I’ll pay back as soon as I get better.”

The biggest give-away that this is a scam is the grammar. Commas are used where periods belong. Not all “I”s are capitalized. Words are missing – “I’ll pay back…”

If you feel that this may actually be someone you know, pick up the phone and call them. Do not use the phone number given in the email. Use the phone number that you already have on file for them. Otherwise, just DELETE THE EMAIL. Do not reply.

Stay safe online this holiday season. For more online and email scams, check out our “Is it a scam?” article.

You can also promote cybersecurity right from your website!