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Beware of gift card scams

GAYLORD – The Michigan State Police wants to remind everyone that scams can take many different forms. We continue to see people being victimized and often they do not believe they are being preyed upon until it’s too late.

An off-duty trooper was recently in a local business when an elderly gentleman came in trying to buy $2,500 in Sephora gift cards. He was instructed to send the gift card numbers to someone he met on Facebook Marketplace, who was selling a horse he wanted to purchase. The trooper recognized this to be a scam. The trooper, cashier, and business manager tried to talk the man out of purchasing the gift cards. He refused. The manager finally told him they would not sell him the gift cards. The man was furious and stormed out of the business. There is no way of knowing whether he went somewhere else to purchase the gift cards, because he was sure this was a legitimate online purchase.

We are grateful there are businesses and cashiers working in stores that try to stop customers from being victimized. No matter how uncomfortable the conversation may be, it is a conversation worth having.

To avoid becoming a victim:

  • Do not give personal information to unknown callers.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited e-mails from unknown senders.
  • Confirm the identity of a contact by independently speaking with the identified source (your bank, credit card company, government agency, etc.).
  • Do not make payments using gift cards.
  • Be immediately suspicious if the caller pressures you or has a sense of urgency for you to act.
  • Use a reliable source, such as the phone book, to confirm the contact’s phone number or e-mail.
  • Report any suspicious contacts to police.
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