Our partners at WAGA in Atlanta report on the story of a woman who received an email, purportedly from her boss, asking her to buy some video gaming gift cards urgently.  As an executive assistant preparing for an event that evening, the request did not strike her as being entirely unusual.  She bought $2,000 in gift cards, but then the request became stranger.  The person claiming to be her boss emailed again and asked her to scratch off the foil to reveal the pin codes for the cards and send pictures of all the cards’ numbers.  While she was doing this, her husband identified the practice as a scam.  A phone call to the office confirmed that the request was indeed fraudulent.  She believes the scammer used LinkedIn to find out who her boss was, then created an email address to impersonate him.

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The woman’s employer was kind enough to reimburse her for the lost $2,000, but this serves as a cautionary tale:

  • Be wary of instructions coming from somebody you would normally trust at an email address you don’t recognize.  Follow up to confirm in person or through a phone number you can verify.
  • If you receive an email with unusually poor grammar and/or asking you to act immediately, be careful since those are signs it may be a phishing scam.  Don’t open any email attachments if you aren’t completely sure it’s from someone you know and trust.
  • It’s a major red flag if somebody asks you to send them gift cards or the numbers on a card.  Gift cards are increasingly popular with scammers because they are nearly impossible to trace.  NEVER send gift cards as payment.