Visitors to Cherokee County businesses will soon see signs warning them of a telephone scam trying to trick them into buying gift cards and giving the card numbers to the scammer, according the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office.
The signs will be posted near gift card displays in local stores, sheriff’s office spokesman Jay Baker said Thursday.
“A legitimate government agency will never ask someone to purchase gift cards to avoid arrest,” Baker said. “Recently, an elderly woman received a call and was told her identity had been stolen and used by a criminal and that she had warrants for her arrest. The caller asked her to purchase about $15,000 worth of Target gift cards and provided the numbers to the suspect.”
Baker said that example is just one of many that the sheriff’s office receives from residents.
“In most scenarios, the victim receives a phone call from someone saying they are in trouble, a loved one is in trouble or that the victim has a warrant out for his/her arrest. The suspect asks the victim to purchase gift cards and deliver them to the sheriff’s office or one of its precincts, making the request seem legitimate,” Baker said. “However, the time between purchasing the gift cards and delivering them to the law enforcement agency, the suspect will ask for the numbers on the back of the cards. Once they have that, the money is gone.”
There are other variations to the gift card scam, Baker said. “The bottom line is if anyone that you don’t know recommends you purchase a gift card for payment you are likely being scammed,” he said.
The Cherokee Sheriff’s Office is distributing warning signs to businesses in Cherokee County that sell gift cards. The signs alert people to the scam and ask them to hang up and then call law enforcement should they ever receive such a call. Any business that hasn’t received a sign and wants to request one should call 770-928-0239.