The Mobile Police Department Financial Crimes Unit wants citizens to be aware of a popular scam that involves payment for merchandise using gift cards. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is always a scammer, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The Financial Crimes Unit has received several calls recently from people who say the scammers are asking them to pay various utility bills, fines such as warrants and tickets, and even purchase items from eBay using gift cards.
This is how it works. The scammers get the gift card information over the phone using spoofed phone numbers so that it looks like the real company is calling. From there, the victim is instructed to go to the store and purchase a gift card.
The type of gift card varies but it is usually iTunes or Google Play cards. The gift card numbers are then read off to the scammer who then spends the money.
Another scam that is happening too often is when a seller asks for eBay gift cards for payment of a transaction, but the seller never delivers a product due to the product listing being false.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping is increasing. The Financial Crimes Unit asks people to be extremely cautious by making sure they shop only with legitimate online sellers. Report gift cards scams at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/paying-scammers-gift-cards#Report.