Franklin Police warn of gift card scams

Published 2:51 pm Saturday, December 8, 2018

With the holiday season in full swing, the Franklin Police Department is warning city residents to be on the lookout for gift card scams.

According to a tip sheet prepared by the Virginia Fusion Center, which Franklin Police are now distributing, the VFC and the Virginia State Police High Tech Crimes Division have already observed several incidents involving gift card scams. These typically lure victims via spear phishing emails, in which a scammer pretends to be an authority figure, such as the head of your department, and asks you to purchase substantial amounts of gift cards, remove the scratch-off PIN cover label and email the codes.

Once the scammers receive the code on the back of the card, the money is depleted and almost impossible to trace. For this reason, there are numerous variations of gift card scams. The trend, however, is for the scammers to request the purchase of gift cards as a personal favor with the promise of reimbursement. If a phone number is provided, scammers will often state they “can’t talk right now” in order to avoid the individual attempting to verify the request. Scammers may target individuals based on their particular job title.

Police wish to remind residents to be on alert whenever a gift card as payment is asked about or requested. Best practices include being suspicious if you receive a request outside of your normal job duties to purchase gift cards on behalf of someone else through email, even if you believe the requestor is a trusted contact. Cyber criminals will often spoof emails to appear as a trusted contact.

If you receive such a request, verify it using a method different from how the request was received using contact information you already have for that person. Scam correspondence may contain false contact information.

Do not send or wire transfer money to unverified individuals or businesses, and do not give credit card information, passwords or personal identifying information over email or the phone to unknown/unverified individuals. Report gift card scams in the workplace to your IT department. Report gift card scams occurring in personal email accounts to

If you have fallen victim to gift card scams, contact your local law enforcement.