How do Gift card scams work? Be aware from these kind of Scam!

Nowadays, Gift card scams are common almost everywhere. But, Do you know why the Scammers prefer Gift cards instead of other ways?

This Article is all about why and how Scammers use Gift cards to Steal the Consumer's money.

We'll see different types of Gift card scams, how does the scams and frauds work, and what precautions you need to take to avoid them.

    Why are Gift cards used in Scams?

    According to the data from FTC, the most loved Gift cards by scammers are Target, Google Play, & Apple.

    These 3 Gift cards consist of 45.9% of total Gift card scams reported to FTC by Gift card owners.

    Accurate Gift card Scams numbers in 2021

    Above are the numbers of Gift card-related Scams that happened in the first 3 quarters of 2021.

    Scammers use Gift cards to do scams because Gift cards cannot be tracked down easily.

    You can't find who used it, because Scammers use the Specific Gift card to redeem using fake accounts or they simply sell it to another person.

    Once redeemed, it becomes impossible to recover the Gift card money or the redeemer's identity.

    If Scammers manage to steal your Prepaid Gift card, then it's very easy for them to spend it. Because Prepaid gift cards are accepted almost everywhere.

    Even they can convert money to their bank or into cash from Prepaid Gift cards like Visa or Mastercard.

    How do Gift card scams work?

    Before start learning about Gift card scams working, have a look at Different types of Gift card scams.

    Types of Gift card scams

    There are different types of Gift card scams in the market, but we're categorizing them into two main categories - Online and Offline.

    Online Gift card Scams 

    Online Gift card Scams

    Online Scammers obtain your data from somewhere, mostly from 3rd party app companies or websites that track your data from your Android devices or Browsers using permissions you granted to that app and cookies from web browsers.

    Then they use that data to identify which user is Buying what things especially Gift cards.

    Then they plan according to the collected data and contact you through email SMS, or phone.

    1. Email Gift card scams

    Email scam is the mostly used Scam technique not only for Gift card scams but for others also.

    They will send you a Phishing link via email in the name of Gift card theft schemes like Buy 1 get 1 free, Claim gift card, etc.

    But, don't fall into their trap. Do not open any such malicious link, it may inject code into your device and will track your Gift cards or any other things.

    2. Pretend to be a government official

    Sometimes, Scammers call you or contact you through Email regarding the Gift cards that you purchased.

    They will request your Gift card details like Gift card number, Barcode, PIN, etc. They will represent themselves as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administrators or government officials.

    They will ask you to pay taxes or fees for the gift card you purchased. They will ask you to share Specific Gift card details with them before paying fees or taxes.

    3. Act as Official Gift card Tech support

    You may receive a Mail, SMS, or Phone call regarding the Gift cards technical support.

    It can contain messages like your Gift card is expired, Balance is zero, upgrade your Gift card to get benefits, update your Gift card information to our database, etc.

    They are Scammers who just want your Gift cards. The scammer will represent themself as a Technical support executive.

    Will ask you to perform certain tasks related to your Gift card which involves sharing sensitive information like Gift card details with them.

    4. Dating scams

    There is also another type of Gift card fraud scammers do to people, especially Teenagers and 60+ people.

    Because they require someone who will date them. So, such needy people get to agree with the scammer's every wish.

    They usually chat with you for a few weeks and after that, they start demanding Gift cards.

    Once you send them a Gift card, they will either block you or Delete their account.

    5. Charity or Donation scams

    If you got a mail or you got to know about anyone who is doing Scams in the name of Charity, Try to verify the identity of the Requester.

    People will tell you to DONATE the Gift card to their charitable or relief fund. They will help to feed less fortunate or poor people.

    Offline Gift card Scams

    Offline Gift card Scams

    1. Changing the barcode on a Gift card

    Like Online Gift card scams, Scammers do Offline or In-store scams without letting the Seller and consumers know.

    Visa and Mastercard Gift cards are scammer's favorite Gift cards in all prepaid Gift cards.

    Because they can use it anywhere they want, unlike retail gift card which is limited to that specific Gift card brand.

    What scammers do in such Gift card scams is they just get or buy unloaded Prepaid Gift cards packet which is slightly opened from the top.

    Then, they take the Physical Prepaid gift card out from the packaging and replace that gift card with a duplicate one.

    That Duplicate Gift card contains the Barcode sticker of an actual Gift card, so they can do the scam.

    Then, they place it inside the Packaging from the top and just apply the glue to remove the trace.

    The packaging looks like it's not tampered and scammers place that fake Gift card packet in Retail stores like Target, Safeway, Walmart, etc.

    Scammers keep checking the Gift card balance all the time. Once people take that Gift card and ask the Cashier to reload it in front of them, Scammers start their black work.

    There was one incident of stealing Visa Gift card money by scammers -

    Back in 2021 September, the same incident happen to women in Irvine Texas. She ordered a Vanilla Visa Debit Gift card from CVS Pharmacy worth $500 and got a used Vanilla Visa Gift card.

    Also Vanilla Visa gift card manufacturing company Incomm confirmed that during manufacturing to delivery of her Visa Gift card, it was present inside the Package.

    The Gift card was present inside the Pagkageing, but what happened here is Scammer had put the fake sticker on her Gift card while it was lying in CVS.

    Later, CVS employees activated a Gift card using that fake Barcode. So, money got deposited to the fake barcode Gift card.

    Such frauds are not only happening with Prepaid Debit Gift cards but also with Retail gift cards like Target, iTunes, PlayStation, etc.

    How to report a Gift card Scam in the US?

    If any kind of Scam or fraud happens to you, then you'll need to do the following things first.

    1. Register a Police complaint

    - After getting scammed by Scamsters, your first duty is to inform the nearest Police station.

    File a complaint against the anonymous/Unidentified person regarding your Gift card.

    2. Contact Gift card Issuer Customer service

    - After making the Please let the Gift card manufacturer know about the Scam. 

    They will try to recover your money from their end and it may help them to implement a more secure way to deliver the Gift card to the end user.

    3. Report it to FTC

    - Open the FTC report fraud website page and fill out the form. FTC officials will help them in further investigation.

    1. After opening the Report page, select Report now link
    2. Now, fill in all the details and answers to asked questions
    3. Explain your scam in the Description box and submit it

    Things you need to take care of!

    The things you can do to stop Offline(In-store) scams are

    1. Check the Gift card Packaging

    Check whether the Gift card packaging is tampered with or not. Mostly Scammers remove the actual Gift cards from the top of the packaging and seal it again with glue from the top only.

    So first of all, we need to check if the Gift card package's top is not opened.

    2. Check a Barcode on the Gift card

    Always check the Gift card Barcode whether it has a Sticker applied to it or not! Barcode Sticker will not have an elevated printed texture on it like the Real one. 

    Try to scratch it gently using your fingernail, so you'll get an idea about it.

    3. Make the Shop owner aware of Gift card scams

    Tell the Retail or Grocery shop Owner/Cashier to put the Gift card section in front of the Cashier's table.

    Explain to them how Gift card scams are happening in retail and grocery stores. So, scammers can't put a duplicate Sticker on the Gift card.

    For Online Scams, you can follow the below safety measures

    1. Identify the Email, SMS, and Phone call

    First of all, try to identify whether the Email is from official support or not. You simply need to check the email id is ending with the Gift card company website name.

    If the You've Target Gift card, then the Email should contain words like "", "", etc.

    If it contains something else, then it's probably a Red flag for you. Simply move it to the Spam folder and let the Customer support people know about the mail.


    Will you go to jail for using a Stolen gift card?

    If you're not a Scammers, but you have purchased a Gift card from Scammers who have stolen the Gift card from someone else, then probably may get into trouble.

    Do not buy Gift cards from the sole seller, they may sell you Such gift cards!

    Even if you have bought such Gift cards. Please let the police know about it. So they can investigate and get your money back from scammers.

    Can you get your money back from gift card scams?

    The chances of getting Gift card scam money back are quite low. But, you can get your money back. Don't lose hope. Report to FTC about your Gift card scam. File a police Complaint against the Scammer. You may get your money back.

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