Don’t Waste Your Money: Gift card scam costs one woman over $10,000

Don't Waste Your Money

Think you would never fall for a phone scam? Think again! One bright, savvy woman is out more than $10,000 after being conned by a fake PayPal agent.

Leslie Flanagan was on the phone with a man claiming to be with PayPal, trying to get her to buy gift cards. “We need two more cards in order to release the money, ma’am,” the scammer said.

She says no, but it’s too late. The event planner had already sent him numbers off a stack of Target gift cards believing she had called PayPal. “It was so official they said this is PayPal,” Flanagan said.

But she had reached a fake PayPal, when she googled for their number the fake rep told her that her account had been hacked. “There were 24 hackers attached to my PayPal account,” Flanagan said. But the rep said he would help her.

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To fix the problem, he told Flanagan to buy a $500 gift card. She would get the money right back. But then he told her to buy another Target gift card, and another, and then another. “I betcha I have 18 of them sent there,” Flanagan said.

She sent him nine thousand dollars in Target gift cards, plus a couple of thousand in eBay gift cards. “I was in auto, I was in auto that whole time. I just kept doing!” Flanagan said.

So when he called again, we called him out. I asked him to return Flanagan’s money. “Sir, who told you I am a scammer? I am helping her out,” the scammer said.

You are not helping her, you are stealing money from her. What is your name?” I asked. Beep! With that, he hung up. We contacted Target, but the store says gift cards are the same as cash.

So don’t let this happen to you. Remember, no store, service, or law enforcement agency will ever tell you to buy gift cards to fix a problem, and don’t trust customer service phone numbers you find online. “it doesn’t matter who you are. If you can be taken in, you can be taken in by them,” Flanagan said.

Bottom line: be careful googling PayPal, Facebook, Venmo, or other services. You may end up calling a scammer who will try to clear your bank account. So don’t waste your money.

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