Niagara police warn of gift card scam

Supported By:

Net Patrol International Inc.  Data Investigation and Forensic Services
Bankruptcy and Insolvency Trustees

Aug. 12, 2021 – The Niagara Regional Police Service is warning residents about frauds involving people claiming to be bank representatives.

The scam works by the victims receiving phone calls from scammers pretending to be a representative of their bank advising the victim there appears to be fraudulent activity on their account. The scammer then asks the victim to allow the scammer access to the victim’s computer to review their bank records. If the victim grants remote access, the victim installs programs onto the computer (Team Viewer and Ultra Viewer). The scammer than requests money from the victim in order to search for the ‘suspect’ that made purchases on the victim’s account. The scammer requests the amount to be purchased through gift cards. The scammer then asks the victim to scratch the back of the gift cards and send them the information on the back so the funds can be used without having the card.

They said to be wary of anyone asking for gift cards, Bitcoin or anything unusual as a form of payment or financial assistance. Scammers are able to spoof emails and phone numbers so they can pretend to be someone the victim knows.

They also provided few reminders to keep people safe from fraudsters:

  • Never purchase gift cards as a form of payment.
  • If you receive a phone call, email or text message instructing you to purchase gift cards, this is a scam.
  • If you purchase the gift cards and are told to scratch the backside and send codes, this is a scam.
  • Remember that scammers are able to “spoof” the phone number on the Caller ID, so it may appear that the caller is your financial institution, Canada Revenue Agency, or your local police service, when it actually is not.
  • Talk to someone you trust before making any decisions related to purchases of this nature. In most cases, once you tell your story to someone else you will recognize that it doesn’t sound right. This may help to prevent you from falling victim to a scam.
  • Remember why they are called gift cards – they are to be used as a gift for someone you care about, not as a form of currency to pay outstanding debts, taxes, utilities or daily living expenses.

If you have been a victim of a scam and experienced a financial loss, please call the Niagara Regional Police Service non-emergency number at 905-688-4111, dial option 2 and ask for “dispatch” to file a report.

If you received one of these calls/messages but did not experience a financial loss, please report by calling Phonebusters at 1-888-495-8501 or contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501