Richmond victim warns of Apple gift card scam

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Scammer used email of resident’s acquaintance in the scam.

“It’s like that image of $1,000 with little wings flying out the window.”

That’s how Richmond resident Susan Parsons described being a victim of an ongoing Apple gift card scam earlier this month.

What Parsons believed was an act of good faith turned into a nightmare and a hard lesson.

It all started when she received an email from “an acquaintance” from a local golfing club asking for help.

The individual, who Parsons knew but had never been in phone or email contact with before, had emailed Parsons asking for help to purchase a $1,000 Apple gift card as a gift for her niece.

“They’re not a close friend, but I’ve played golf on occasion with her and one day I got an email saying she was really sick and needed help,” Parsons explained.

In the email, the presumed acquaintance said “her niece, who’s had health problems, had overcome them and was doing really well and she wanted to support her with a gift card for her birthday. She had promised to pay me back too.”

Without hesitating, Parsons said she would be glad to help.

Once Parsons bought the gift card, she offered to deliver it in-person to the individual, but they instructed her to take a photo of it with the card’s pin number instead.

Parsons told the Richmond News that the scammer said they were “still sick” and didn’t want to get her sick as well.

All seemed fine, until the person on the other side of the email followed-up with a message saying they received the gift card and then proceeded to ask for “another favour” of $1,000 for their niece’s book fees for school.

“That’s when I smartened up.”

Parsons attempted to call the individual’s phone number that was listed on the golf club’s member list and figured that they were out of town as no one picked up or called back despite numerous messages left.

“The email was the same as the list, but it wasn’t the same person I knew.”

She was instructed by both her bank and the Apple store to report it to the RCMP, but by this point Parsons knew her $1,000 was gone.

“You just kind of feel stunned and shocked. Like I can’t believe I did this, and I was that stupid,” said Parsons.

“I didn’t have any ill will or any bad feelings about trying to help somebody out. That’s just who I am. But having something like this happen to you, you just feel sick.”

According to Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre statistics, 52,735 reports of internet frauds were reported as of July 2022.

In 2021, 33,302 victims reported of fraud cases with an approximate loss of $381 million due to fraud across Canada.

Parsons said she doesn’t know how the scammer accessed her fellow golfing colleague’s email.

And although she found it odd that the acquaintance reached out to her,  considering they had never spoken over the phone or exchanged emails before, red flags didn’t go up until the scammer asked for the second $1,000.

“A lot of times people are too embarrassed to let others know that they’ve been victimized like that. I want to tell people to be more alert.”

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