- The Washington Times - Monday, December 21, 2020

Scammers took $245 million in gift-card fraud schemes since 2018, according to a new analysis from the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC said gift cards have topped the list of fraud payment methods by those reporting to the FTC during every year since 2018 as well.

“Scammers always have some reason why you need to buy gift cards,” wrote FTC’s Emma Fletcher. “They might say you’re in serious trouble with the government and must buy ‘electronic vouchers’ to avoid arrest. Some people say scammers posing as businesses promised special pricing for phone or TV service if they paid for the first three months with a gift card. Others thought they were buying gift cards to evaluate a retailer as a ‘secret shopper.’”

While the types of gift cards that scammers choose to exploit change regularly, FTC said eBay is the “gift card of choice for scammers” now.

“Nearly half of people who reported paying someone posing as a government authority said they paid with a gift card,” Ms. Fletcher wrote. “Nearly 45% of those who reported losing money to someone pretending to be a friend or a family member paid with gift cards. And gift cards were the reported payment method in about a third of tech support and other business impersonation scams.”

Ms. Fletcher wrote that Americans should take precautions to be on the lookout for anyone who demands payment via a gift card, as it is likely a scam.

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