JOPLIN, Mo. — The Better Business Bureau says gift card scams are on the rise. A victim in Missouri lost nearly $15,000 from the scam.

Janet Wray, Gift Card Scam Victim, said, “You feel held in hostage. My daughter when she called me she was afraid there was someone in the house holding me hostage, well there was, but it was on the phone.”

Just after Halloween in 2020 Janet Wray got a phone call from someone claiming to be from Apple. They told Wray her Apple cloud had been hacked and she needed to give them gift cards to recover her account.

“On the way to Walmart I began thinking this doesn’t sound right. He sent me all sorts of information saying he was an employee of apple so I read all that and thought well okay this is legitimate.”

She started buying gift cards in $500 increments at Walmart, Walgreens, and Target using her credit cards. Credit card companies were flagging her purchases because they thought her cards had been stolen.

“I got a call from one of the credit card companies and said Janet you are being hacked this is bad do not use these cards anymore.”

The Better Business Bureau says its common for scammers to use fear tactics to get their victims to cooperate.

Stephanie Garland, BBB Regional Director, said, “That’s how scammers make their money. They try to prey on your heart they’re trying to make your mind shut off and so that way you’re just going to be acting on emotion.”

Scammers ask the victims to take a photo of the back of the gift card and immediately steal the money. The BBB says victims are losing a median of $700. Wray had $14,500 stolen through gift cards.

“Believe me I’ll never buy a gift card again,” said Wray.

The BBB says education and communication with your loved ones can stop scammers in their tracks.
They say to ask a lot of questions and hang up on anyone who is asking for gift cards as payments.