Gift card scams are on the rise in Gillette with several incidents reported within the last few weeks.
Yesterday, a 63-year-old Gillette man told the Gillette Police Department that he received a text from an unknown party, indicating that $350,000 in relief funds would be released to him upon receipt of a $1,500 transfer fee paid in the form of gift cards. The man provided $500 in Walmart gift cards to the scammer before learning he had been cheated.
Unfortunately, according to Laura Baker, co-founder and executive director for CyberWyoming, gift cards are becoming an increasingly popular form of currency in such schemes.
“People are constantly requesting gift cards in scam operations, especially here in Wyoming,” Baker said. “If we could train store cashiers to question when someone purchases over $50 in gift cards, we could probably cut the number of people scammed in half.”
A Better Business Bureau (BBB) report reinforced Baker’s sentiment with a recent survey that found that “51% of people who reported a third-party intervention (by cashiers, bank tellers, and other vigilant employees) were able to avoid losing money.”
Furthermore, the survey found that the top three reasons people fell prey to a scam was that it seemed official, the individual was in a hurry, or that they thought the person they were communicating with was nice.
Baker noted the commonalities that many of the victims surveyed in the report seem to share, including living alone, feeling lonely or isolated with no one to consult about potential scams, and having a lack of financial literacy or shortage of funds.
In her position, Baker sees many such scams on the rise and encourages Wyomingites to stay vigilant and skeptical when it comes to anyone offering free money or soliciting funds via text, email, or phone.
Learn more about protecting yourself from cyber crimes at CyberWyoming.org.