The Elaborate Gift Card Credit Card Scam

Posted May 2, 2019 by cccadmin in

The scammers are at it again. It’s an ongoing game of cat and mouse between the authorities and scammers. Once the authorities catch on to a scam, the scammers change their strategy. It’s important for credit cardholders to protect themselves, as scams are always evolving.

The latest such scam occurred to a woman in Calgary. When she received a phone call one day out of the blue, she thought she was helping Mastercard track down the thieves who supposedly stole her credit card, when she in fact she ended up helping out the scammers.

The Supposed Identity Theft Ruse

According to the story by Global News, Shannon was sitting at home one day when she got a call from someone claiming to be a representative from Mastercard. The man said that her credit card had been compromised and that it was going to be cancelled and a new credit card would be issued. He then hung up on the phone. But it wasn’t the end of things.

The man called back a minute or two later and told her that her card had been copied. He asked her if she’d be willing to help the RCMP and Mastercard find the culprits. Wanting to help out the authorities and protect herself from identity theft, Shannon agreed.

The man instructed her to go to a store close by and buy some Google Play cards. Why Google Play cards? The man said that the thieves had been buying these with her copied card. He said it was the only way the authorities could track down the scammers. She was told that they would know it was her credit card versus the copied one due to the PIN number.

Due to the CRA phone scam, retailers have been trained to inquire about customers who are buying gift cards with large amounts loaded onto them. The retailer did ask Shannon about the gift card she was buying, but she told them a white lie when she said the gift cards were Easter presents for her grandchildren.

Shannon headed home, scratched the card and PIN numbers and provided them to the so-called Mastercard representative. I say “so-called” because if you haven’t realized it by now, it wasn’t a Mastercard representative she was speaking to, it was a fraudster pretending to be a Mastercard rep.

Shannon realized that something was up when she got a call the next day asking her to do it all over again – buying gift cards from retailers. Instead of doing that, Shannon called the police and that’s when she realized it was a scam.

Shannon wasn’t too pleased and called the scammer up and said she was onto him. He responded by saying, “Take comfort in the fact that I only took you for $3,000. I’ve managed to scam a lot of people for a lot more.”

The sad reality is that it’s very unlikely Shannon will get her money back. The scammers are more than likely out of country.

The Bottom Line

If something seems fishy, don’t act on it. If someone is claiming to be a representative from Mastercard or Visa, hang up and call your credit card company directly to find out if it’s legit. Also, if the call rep is asking you to lie or go buy something, it’s a big red flag.

If you’ve been scammed, call the police and report it immediately. The police will investigate your complaint. You really have to be vigilant though. As mentioned, most of these scammers are out of country, so the chances of getting your money back are slim to none.