Over $429 Million Reported Lost to Gift Card Scams since 2018, ScamSpotter Reports

Gift card spending is expected to jump 27% this year with continued supply-chain issues and product shortages, according to Scam Spotter, a platform created by Cybercrime Support Network (CSN) with support from Google.

But behind this go-to holiday present lies one of the top payment methods for sophisticated scams, which has claimed $429.2 million since the beginning of 2018.

Scam Spotter is sounding the alarm to consumers ahead of the busy shopping season with its new awareness campaign aimed to thwart scammers’ complex con attempts.

This comprehensive campaign highlights the most common gift card scam scenarios in a series of absurd and hyperbolic videos to show that if the stories scammers use sound unbelievable, it’s because they are.

The dramatized films focus on today’s most popular scams: “your relative’s in jail”, “you owe the government money”, “your computer’s been hacked”, “you’re pre-approved for a loan”, and “it’s your boss – I need you to buy gift cards ASAP.”

All the films can be viewed at scamspotter.org/unbelievablestories.

Today, scams are more prevalent than many realize, and have evolved far beyond the improbable “Nigerian Prince” call, as the fraud industry surpasses $3.3 billion annually.

Scammers prey on fear, and catch people when their guard is down by using more intimate channels of communication, like a direct message on social media.

They succeed by fabricating “urgent” situations, igniting a sense of panic so that their victims feel like they need to act immediately without a chance to stop and think.

Afterward, people often feel overwhelmed with embarrassment and they don’t report or talk about how they were scammed, leaving others vulnerable to fall for the same scenario.

2021 is on track to be the worst year yet for gift card scams.

The most common gift card scams include government imposter, family or friend emergency, business imposter, tech support, romance scams, and good news scams like a prize or sweepstakes.

While baby boomers tend to lose more money per scam on average, younger generations are far from safe with millennials reporting losses of around $300 million in 2020.

“Scammers love gift cards because they are untraceable, and there’s no way to recover the money once a scammer has the card details,” says Jenny Grounds, CMO of Cybercrime Support Network. “At CSN and through Scam Spotter, our mission is to educate people about these scams so that they can be their best first line of defense against scammers.” 

To help Americans protect themselves from these crimes, CSN’s Scam Spotter campaign aims to remove the stigma tied to falling for scams in order to spark intergenerational conversations among boomers and millennials.

Scam Spotter is not only raising awareness around the sophistication of scams today, but also empowering people to spot scams using the three golden rules: slow down, check the details of what they’re being told, and never send money to someone in the moment.

Because if someone demands payment in gift cards to solve a problem, it’s a scam.

More information about scams and how to spot them can be found at scamspotter.org.

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