Prescott AZ (September 30, 2020) – In partnership with the Chino Valley, Prescott, Prescott Valley and Tribal Police, YCSO personnel have begun distributing warning signs to area businesses that sell gift cards. As many already know, these scammers have been busy victimizing the Yavapai County community for years mostly targeting seniors, our most vulnerable population.
Scammers use gifts cards to quickly obtain cash while the scam is in progress. The so called ‘payments’ are created through fake circumstances by convincing the victim they owe money for such things as a court warrant, computer service, overdue utility payment, helping out a person stranded overseas, securing ‘prize money,’ and on and on.
The Sheriff’s Office very much appreciates the cooperation of business owners who allow us to display these signs in a prominent location in their store. These folks care enough to help us prevent further victimization of our citizens. If you are a business owner involved in the sale of gift cards and would like to participate in the program, please call Crime Prevention Coordinator Bryan Thomas at 928-777-7223.
In the ongoing effort to combat fraud, the Sheriff’s Office Fraud Intervention Team (FIT), has set up a help line for fraud victims. This is not to replace the need for a police report if desired, but to provide advice and follow-up for victims of fraud in Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction. The number is 928-771-3299. Please leave a message when you call.
From the Federal Trade Commission regarding gift card scams – (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/paying-scammers-gift-cards)
GIFT CARDS are a popular and convenient way to give someone a gift. They’re also a popular way for scammers to steal money from you. That’s because gift cards are like cash: if you buy a gift card and someone uses it, you probably cannot get your money back. Gift cards are for gifts, not payments. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is always a scammer.
Many different kinds o ask you to pay with gift cards. Someone might call you and claim to be from the IRS, collecting back taxes or fines. The caller might say he’s from tech support, asking for money to fix your computer. The caller might even say she’s a family member with an emergency and needs money right now.
But they all have in common an urgent need for you to send money right away. Imposters will sometimes ask you to wire money to them but, increasingly, they tell you to go put money on a gift card. Here’s what happens: the caller will often tell you to go buy a popular gift card, frequently, iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon. The caller will tell you to get the card at a particular store near you – often Walmart, Target, Walgreens, or CVS. They may even have you buy several cards at several stores. Sometimes, the caller will stay on the phone with you while you go to the store. Once you buy the card, the caller then will demand the gift card number and PIN on the back of the card. Those numbers let them immediately get the money you loaded onto the card. And once they’ve done that, the scammers and your money are gone, usually without a trace.
Other kinds of scammers, some of them also imposters, who might demand payment by gift card include:
- callers pretending to be from a utility company, telling you to pay your bill by gift card or they’ll cut off your power or water
- sellers on online auction sites who ask for gift cards to “buy” big items like cars, motorcycles, boats, RVs, tractors and electronics
- someone posing as a servicemember to get your sympathy, saying he has to sell something quickly before deployment and needs you to pay by gift card
- callers who say you’ve won a so-called prize, for a sweepstakes you probably never entered – but first, you must use a gift card to pay fees or other charges
- someone buying something from you, probably online, who sends a check for more than the purchase price – and asks you to give them the difference on a gift card. (That check, by the way, will turn out to be fake).
These are all scams. In fact, if anyone tells you to pay by gift card, or by wiring money – for any reason – that’s a sure sign of a scam. Every time.