Gift Card Payment Scams

Scammers requesting payment in the form of gift cards (e.g. Apple, Amazon, and Walmart cards) is a growing fraud trend. Scammers impersonate colleagues or friends and come up with a pretext to ask victims to buy them gift cards. Victims are hoodwinked into handing over the gift card numbers and PIN. Gift cards are nonrefundable, untraceable, and indisputable. 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, in the year 2023, Americans lost approximately $161 million to gift card scams. Common tactics take shape in the form of calls, text, email, or social media messages, and include:

  • Impersonation Scams
    • Scammers approach victims as impostors—assuming roles such as government agents or law enforcement—and threaten consequences for failure to provide immediate gift card payment.  
  • Online Purchase Scams
    • Scammers pose as sellers on online marketplaces. They offer products at discounted prices in exchange for payment in gift cards. 
  • Romance Scams
    • Scammers build fake online relationships with victims. They then invent emergencies and request financial assistance in the form of gift cards. 
  • Lottery or Prize Scams 
    • Scammers withhold the victims’ supposed winning and demand gift cards as payment for fees or taxes. 
  • IRS Impersonation Scams 
    • Scammers impersonate IRS agents and threaten legal action against the victim for failure to pay taxes. They insist the alleged tax debt be paid off in gift cards. 
  • Tech Support Scams
    • Scammers claim to work for a reputable tech support company and offer software or services to help the victim fight viruses and enhance security. They then seek payment in the form of gift cards.

If you suffered from a gift card scam in New York on or after June 20, 2023, talk to us—in confidence. There is no obligation, and everything you share is confidential. Text or call (646) 290-9068, email, or fill out the form to the right.


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