A Beaver Valley woman is sounding the alarm after she was almost taken for $200 in a Google Play card scam.
Her morning began with a quick email check which revealed a message from an acquaintance saying he was not well, couldn’t get to the phone, and needed $200 to help him out of a jam. The woman emailed him back asking how she could help. A response came back that if she would buy $200 in Google Play gift cards and send him the codes on the back, then that would be greatly appreciated.
Wanting to help, she went to a store in Fruitvale and purchased the cards. Upon her return home she replied to the email sender and asked what to do next. This is when the person on the other end became somewhat insistent, almost offensive to her, about sending the codes. The woman became suspicious at this point because she says her friend wouldn’t talk to her like that.
So, she picked up the phone and called her friend instead. This is when he told her that he most definitely did not send her the email.
Fortunately the woman did not email the card codes to the scammer. Now she just has to figure out what to do with $200 worth of Google Play cards, because gift cards are not refundable and can only be used online to pay for apps and music.
This is a very common phishing scam where the fraudster sends out an email falsely assuming the identify of another in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, or gift card codes.
In fact, the Trail Times newsroom has received emails just like this with the name appearing to be a person that reporters have talked with in the past. When the newsroom replied just one time out of curiosity, a similar message was returned wherein the email sender claimed to be in trouble and needed financial help via Google Play cards. Deleting and blocking these fraudulent accounts is the first step.
Google itself advises that victims of Google gift card fraud should report the scam to their local police detachment. As well, Google asks victims to report the gift card scam to Google via support.google.com.
To avoid gift card scams Google advises, “Never use Google Play gift cards to pay for taxes, bail money, or anything outside Google Play. Google Play gift cards can only be used to make purchases on Google Play. Never share the code on the back of the gift card.”
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