Gift Card Scams – Why Romance Scammers Want Gift Card Numbers
Romance scamming is a form of online fraud that has increased tremendously in recent years. It involves unscrupulous criminals, almost always from Africa, using fake online identities to lure unsuspecting people into a romantic relationship with the ultimate goal of stealing their money.
These scams have many faces and schemes, but in the end it always boils down to the scammer making a request for financial support under false pretences.
A common tactic used by romance scammers is the gift card scam. This involves tricking victims into purchasing gift cards and sending the codes to the scammer as payment. Prepaid gift cards are a preferred payment method for online dating scammers because they are readily available in many stores, untraceable, and can be quickly converted to cash. The goal of a gift card scammer is to get you to sign over a gift card balance.
What is a gift card scam?
A gift card scam is a type of fraud where a person is tricked into purchasing a gift card, such as an Amazon gift card, Apple iTunes gift card, or Steam card, and other gift card brands, and giving the code on the card to the scammer.
The basic principle of gift card fraud is to convince the victim to make a payment in the form of a gift card instead of using a traditional payment method such as a wire transfer to a bank account or a money order.
Fraudsters love digital gift cards because they are untraceable and can be quickly converted to cash in online marketplaces, Ebay or elsewhere. The card number on the back of the card allows the fraudster to get the money the card is worth.
Gift cards are often requested by scammers, because they are anonym and they can be used to buy almost everything.
There are several ways scammers can try to commit gift card fraud. One common tactic is to pose as a soldier deployed overseas, an engineer on an oil rig, or a businessman who needs to travel to Africa and has run into financial hardship on short notice.
Scammers infiltrate the victim’s heart and then claim to be in need. They then ask for help in the form of a gift card.
The scammer may claim to be stranded somewhere or in a dangerous situation and need immediate help. The scammer may use emotional manipulation to convince the victim to help, such as claiming that they will be arrested or that something will happen if they do not receive the gift card.
In gift card romance scams, the scammer usually poses as a new partner and asks for gift cards for various purposes, such as paying for travel, medical bills, or other unexpected expenses. These requests can be very convincing, especially if the victim has developed feelings for the scammer.
Scammers use the promise of love and romance to manipulate their victims into providing financial assistance in the form of gift cards. Unfortunately, many people fall for these scams, often losing large sums of money.
Understanding the correlation between romance scams and gift cards can help protect you from this type of scam.
Why Fraudsters Love Gift Cards
Fraudsters love gift cards for several reasons. First, gift cards are readily available and can be purchased at a variety of retail locations. This makes them a convenient payment method for fraudsters who may be in another country or region and unable to accept traditional payment methods such as credit cards, debit cards or bank transfers.
Gift cards are also untraceable, making them an attractive option for fraudsters looking to avoid detection by law enforcement. Once a gift card is purchased and the code is given to the fraudster, it is difficult, if not impossible, to track down and recover the money.
Finally, gift cards are typically non-refundable, meaning that once the code is given to the fraudster, the victim is unlikely to get their money back. This makes gift card scams particularly lucrative for fraudsters, who can pocket the money without fear of reprisal or loss.
The Role of Gift Cards in Romance Scamming
An explanation of how scammers use gift cards in romance scams.
Romance scams are a type of online fraud in which scammers use false identities and emotional manipulation to trick people into sending them money. Gift card scams are a common tactic used by scammers to get money from their victims.
Soldiers could buy gift cards everywhere in the world and they do not need your help for this.
In a typical romance scam, the scammer creates a fake profile on a dating website or social media platform and begins to build a relationship with their victim. They may use photos of an attractive person and create a persona that appeals to the victim’s desires and interests.
Once a relationship is established, the scammer will begin asking for money. They may claim that they need money to cover unexpected expenses, such as medical bills or travel expenses, or to pay for a gift for the victim. They like to claim that they are in love with the victim and need the money to start a new life together.
This is where gift cards come into play. Scammers ask their victims to buy gift cards and give them the codes to send money. They may claim that the gift cards are needed for a hotel room, an unexpected expense, or a flight for the victim.
Con artists may also use gift cards as a way to get money from their victims without raising suspicion. By requesting gift cards instead of traditional payment methods such as wire transfers or credit cards, they can avoid detection by banks or financial institutions that may deem the transaction fraudulent.
Real examples of common gift card scams
There are numerous cases where scammers have used gift cards to defraud romance scam victims. In addition to being used in romance scams, gift cards are also used in many other scams, as the following examples show.
The “grandson or other family Member in jail” scam
In this common scam, a scammer calls pretending to be the victim’s grandson, who has allegedly been arrested and needs money for bail. The scammer then asks the victim to purchase gift cards and enter the codes over the phone. In one case, a victim was scammed out of $8,000 in iTunes gift cards.
The “online dating” scam
In this type of scam, a scammer creates a fake online dating profile and establishes a relationship with the victim. Once trust is established, the scammer may ask the victim to purchase gift cards and provide the codes to transfer money. In one case, a victim was scammed out of $150,000 in gift cards by a scammer posing as a military member.
The “technical support” scam
In this scam, a scammer poses as a technical support representative and claims that the victim’s computer is infected with a virus or has some other problem that needs to be fixed immediately. The scammer may then ask the victim to purchase gift cards and provide the codes to pay for the supposed tech support services. In one case, a victim was scammed out of $30,000 in Google Play gift cards by a scammer posing as a Microsoft tech support employee.
Instead of traceable credit cards or bank accounts, scammers often prefer to use gift cards.
The “sweepstakes” scam
In this scam, a scammer claims that the victim has won a large amount of money in a sweepstakes or lottery. The scammer may then ask the victim to purchase gift cards and provide the codes to pay taxes or other fees associated with claiming the supposed prize. In one case, a victim was scammed out of $50,000 in gift cards by a scammer posing as a representative of a well-known lottery company.
These real-life examples highlight the dangers of gift card scams in romance scams. So pay attention to the warning signs you see.
How to avoid a gift card scam.
Tips for recognizing and avoiding romance scams
Romance scams are one of the most common forms of online fraud, and gift card scams are often used by fraudsters to take advantage of their victims. Here are some tips on how to spot and avoid romance gift and gift card scams:
Be cautious when communicating with others online. Scammers often use social media or dating sites to contact their victims. Be wary of people who sound too good to be true or who are quick to express strong feelings or a desire for a committed relationship. Look for inconsistencies in their stories or profile information that could indicate identity theft.
If you communicate online with someone who claims to be a member of the military or a government official, do some research to verify their identity. You can search online for the person’s name and profile picture or have a video chat with them to confirm their identity.
Do not share sensitive information or nude pictures with people you meet online. Be careful when someone asks you for money, gift card payments, or transfers to their account.
Be sceptical if someone asks for a gift card as payment. Legitimate businesses and organizations generally do not ask for gift cards as payment. Be especially cautious if you are asked for gift cards for large amounts or for urgent needs such as bail bonds or medical emergencies.
Take your time and do not rush into a relationship. Love scammers often try to quickly build a relationship with their victims. Take your time and do not rush into a committed relationship without first verifying the person’s identity and intentions
What to do if you are not sure who you are dealing with? Avoid gift card scams.
If you have met someone online and you are not sure if they are a real person or not, our private investigators can help you find out the truth. In the meantime, don’t buy a gift card for a stranger you met online or pay fees.
Write us all the information you know about the person and send it to us. You will then receive a quote for the cost of the investigation. Our service will cost you some money, but you will have peace of mind afterwards and you avoid being a victim of these gift card payment scams.
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