City police say a local man sent $7,000 worth of gaming gift cards to a fraud artist in what’s known as an emergency scam.
The man, in his late 70s, received a phone call in January from someone claiming to be his son. The caller said he’d been in a collision and was calling from court, and requested help speaking to his lawyer.
Another man then got on the phone and claimed to be the son’s lawyer. He told the senior that his son had admitted being at fault and had to pay a $4,000 fine, medical expenses and costs to the court. The fake lawyer told the senior to go to a store and buy $3,500 worth of Steam gift cards – used to purchase games and other items on the Steam online video gaming service – and the lawyer would call back to get the codes on the cards.
When the scammer called back, he told the senior to go buy another $3,500 worth of the cards. The senior did this and wound up giving the caller $7,000 worth of codes from the gift cards.
The senior called his son a couple of days later and learned he’d been defrauded.
Police say this kind of “emergency scam” targets people, often seniors, by presenting a fast-moving, high-stress crisis involving a loved one.
City police say anyone who receives this kind of call, email or text message should hang up and try to reach the loved one in question independently to confirm the information, or contact other family members who can help.
“Warning bells should be going off when someone on the phone asks you to make any sort of payment with gift cards,” police state in a media release.
People should always call a family member or check with their bank before making any kind of payment, and never make a payment to someone who claims payments must be made through untraceable methods, such as wire transfers, gift cards or prepaid debit cards.
Police also ask retailers to watch for customers wanting to make large purchases of gift cards. A few questions might help prevent them being victimized, police say.
Read the full story over at The Peterborough Examiner.