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WEEKLY FRAUD UPDATE FROM WEST MERCIA POLICE - ECONOMIC CRIME UNIT - 18/06/2024


                                                GIFT CARD FRAUD

Gift Cards are in everyday use and are a simple way, as the name suggests, to give a gift. However, once again the criminals are using this as an opportunity to get their victims to make a payment which is then to all intents and purposes, untraceable and irretrievable.

Fraudsters very often ask their victims to make a payment by purchasing Gift Cards, then reading out or forwarding the code printed on the back of the card. It has been known for fraudsters to pose as HMRC demanding an immediate payment of outstanding tax or sometimes in the case of Romance Scams, they are requesting an urgent payment to help them out with some personal financial problem.

Fraudsters are using online store Gift Cards to collect money from victims because they can be easily redeemed and sold on. The fraudsters do not need the physical card to redeem the value and will instead use tactics to persuade victims to purchase Gift Cards in large amounts, then either read out the serial code on the back over the phone, or send it by text or email.

They may ask for iTunes vouchers or various other cards such as STEAM, Amazon, or Google Play cards. Once they have the serial number they can either make high value purchases for their own gain or sell the number on to third parties.

Do not be fooled if a fraudster tries to give credibility to the demand by calling Gift Cards “Payment Cards”. Whilst many victims have been in the over 60 years age group, this warning is equally appropriate to all age groups.

One other twist in the Gift Card scams is for a person to receive an email from a friend or relative asking them to purchase a Gift Card for them as for some reason they are unable to get to the shop. They then ask for the serial number off the card to save you delivering it. What has really happened is that person’s contact list has been hacked so the criminal can then pose as the friend or relative to make the request.

Retailers are now working alongside Action Fraud to help raise awareness by posting warning signs by Gift Card retail units, or creating an upper payment limit for Gift Card purchases.

 

HOW CAN YOU PROTEECT YOURSELF?

•    Gift Cards of any type, including App Store and iTunes Gift Cards can only be used to purchase goods and services from the retailer named on the card. Never provide the numbers on the back of any Gift Card to someone you do not know.
•    No genuine organisation, and especially government organisations, will ask you to pay taxes, bills or fees using Gift Cards, or any other type of voucher. If you’re contacted by anyone that asks you to do this, you are very likely the target of a scam.
•    Once you have handed over that serial number, the card is valueless and your money has vanished

Genuine banks, Government Agencies or other trusted organisations will not pressure you to make a financial transaction on the spot. If something feels wrong then it’s usually right to question it.  

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Please feel free to share this information with any family, friends, or neighbours that you think it may be able to assist.

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Take Five to Stop Fraud

STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe. 
CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you. 
PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud

ALWAYS REMEMBER:
•    Avoid disclosing security details
•    Emails, Phone Calls and Texts may not be authentic
•    Always make direct contact with any organisation by using a genuine phone number 
•    Stop and Challenge any unexpected requests
•    Protect others by reporting Fraud and Scams
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If you’ve fallen for a scam, 
report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk

Scam Text messages can be forwarded to 7726 to help phone providers take early action and block numbers that generate spam on their networks.

Forward Fake Emails received to report@phishing.gov.uk

If you think your bank account or personal banking details have been used fraudulently, then use the short phone number - 159 - to contact the Fraud Prevention Department of most major UK banks.
 


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Message Sent By
Michael Barbour
(Police, PSV, Economic Crime Unit – Fraud Protect’ )

Neighbourhood Alert Cyber Essentials