By Caroline Watson – CEO – Voucherline – MD – TheGiftCardCentre
Fraudsters operate anytime day or night, and fraud has increased dramatically during lockdown as a captured audience is sitting reading emails, and answering phones locked up at home.
One fraud that has reared its head again recently, is answering a phone call, and the caller saying they are from Internet Services and you have a virus showing on your computer they need to remove for you, and fix. They ask you to pay with gift cards – they seem to like Gaming gift cards and Computer gift cards’ amongst others but we have heard of many other brands being asked for.
Our attention was drawn to this when we started to see an unusual amount of orders last month requesting 6 x £50 Gaming cards. Our colleague noticed as she packed the orders up.
Remembering an instance of 2 years ago, when we had an elderly gentleman ordering from us, and we had suspicions incase the orders were fraudulent, when infact it was him being frauded as we later found out, our ears pricked and we decided to call the customers up. Ten of them as far as we could see.
Bingo. Eight out of the ten had purchased as they had been asked to do so by these scammers. Sadly, we were only able to save three of them, blocking their gift cards, and refunding their monies. The rest had given the card details to the fraudsters and had been spent. One gentleman had been taken for £1200, and had even visited PC World to purchase gift cards, and went back again as they said they did not work the first time!
Nothing is so sad as hearing a lovely soft spoken older gentleman, saying he felt so stupid, and his family were very cross with him. Another actually argued with me, saying “but how can I get them off my computer? I have given them access via Team viewer and I have to give them these to get them off”. I advised him that they would never come off it, so he had to take the computer to his nearest store who could restore it again and take them off. I even googled that store for him and gave him the details!
I then started to think about just how many others there might be out there….
We as an industry are a kind and caring industry. I always say that I have never experienced such good friends as we do with our competitors and with our suppliers. We are in the gifting industry. We are not in the fraud industry, or want to be profiteering from fraud.
What can we responsibly and easily do?
Well we at Voucherline and TheGiftCardCentre have started, by placing a simple message on the products that have had this issue on our websites. It reads:
Are you being asked to purchase this from someone over the phone? please stop!! We have had an increase of customers who have been scammed from people saying they are with internet services asking for £300 in Google Play cards. You must NEVER purchase gift cards if being asked over the phone by someone who rang you first asking you to do so. Happy to chat if you want to contact us.
Simple message, doing our bit.
Can you do the same? And could the actual brands go a little further?
Imagine if your cashier were to ask a simple line before loading a gift card:
“Can I just check that you have not been asked to purchase this by anyone over the phone?”
It is a simple line. I know 100% if that cashier was then told “yes someone rang me and asked me to purchase them” that they would feel like a warrior saving someone from harm. It is in most of ours DNA to protect if we can. They can then follow up with a little advice not to purchase, and to not answer calls from fraudsters like this in future. Even better, talk to a family member to get more support.
Or – could there be a small POS display by the tills, asking the same question and giving the same advice?
Over to you all! Let’s do our bit and stop these lowlifes using our currency to fraud innocent customers.
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