Cobourg Police warn the community of recent gift card scams

Two resident report fraud involving Google Play cards

Police received two calls yesterday regarding suspected Google Play gift card scams. One report involved a gift card scam by email, and the second involved a gift card scam over the phone.

In one instance, a scammer hacked into the complainant’s Microsoft account and sent an email to contacts requesting gift card pin numbers under the guise that the complainant was in trouble and needed assistance. One person that received the fraudulent email purchased a large sum of Google Play gift cards. Before sending the pin numbers, they discovered it was a scam.

The second complainant reported a loss of funds when they received a phone call from a scammer claiming there were issues with a credit card. They were asked to purchase $300 in Google Play gift cards and send the pin numbers to rectify the problem.

With recent fraud reports, the Cobourg Police Service reminds residents to be cautious when receiving unsolicited emails, text or phone calls. Recent incidents of fraud locally have targeted senior residents. Please share fraud information and the tips below with friends and family.

Avoid gift card scams – learn the signs. Someone may be trying to scam you if:

  • You receive an unsolicited text or email urging you to click the link and purchase large sums of gift cards.
  • You receive an unsolicited phone call from someone pretending to be from a government agency (like the CRA) or financial institution saying that you owe money. They tell you that you have to pay them with gift cards to avoid arrest or to regain your personal information (ie: SIN card).
  • You receive a phone call or email from someone claiming to be a family member or friend in trouble, telling you they need gift cards to solve their problem.
  • Someone might be trying to scam you if they ask you to buy a gift card and share the code so that you can pay for something outside what the gift card is intended for.

Remember

  • Gift cards cannot be used to pay for taxes, debts, or anything outside of the company or store specified.
  • The CRA and financial institutions will not send an email or text with a link asking you to divulge personal information. 
  • The CRA and financial institutions will not request payments by prepaid credit cards, gift cards or through any form of crypto-currency.  
  • The CRA and financial institutions will not threaten you with arrest or a prison sentence.   
  • An email or text message that includes a sense of urgency is a telltale sign of fraud.

Many frauds today are designed to play on a potential victim’s emotions and get them to respond without thinking. Slow down and do not react to potential fraud solicitations. Take the time to assess the situation before reacting. This can involve saying no, hanging up, doing some research to confirm information, and talking to family members and friends.

Protect yourself

  • Beware of unsolicited emails and text messages. Delete them.
  • Do not open messages that claim to be from businesses or organizations with which you do not have an existing relationship.
  • Do not click any links or attachments if you are unsure of the sender’s identity.
  • If you clicked a link and it leads to a request for personal or financial information, do not proceed, close the page and run a thorough scan of your device.
  • Protect your personal information and money – never give out information in response to an unsolicited email, phone call, or text.
  • Check credit profiles, monitoring accounts for unauthorized activities.
  • Update operating systems and antivirus software.
  • Change account passwords often.
  • Do not conduct business over the phone.
     

There is a wide range of active frauds and scams, and the best way to protect yourself is with knowledge. Learn how to recognize when someone is trying to scam you and where to report it. Through education, you can prevent being a victim of scams and fraud. Share the information with friends and family, especially those most vulnerable.  

Visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website for a list of known scams and learn more about protecting yourself. 

If you or a family member were victims of fraud, even if there is no loss of funds, please contact the Cobourg Police Service at 905-372-6821 or the law enforcement agency in your jurisdiction and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by phone at 1-888-495-8501 (toll free). 

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre – Fraud Reporting System 

1.888.495.8501 (toll free) 

antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca

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