Are You In?
An innocent question. When someone asks, we realize they need us. If it appears to be from a known contact, you’ll likely respond “yes” if you are available. And then, the ruse continues.
This person then asks you to buy some gift cards for a fundraiser or charity. They claim to be in a meeting and can’t do it themselves. Don’t worry, they’ll pay you back. If the requester is an authority figure at work, like your manager or an executive, you may feel obligated, regardless of what your gut tells you!
After you’ve bought the gift cards, you’re asked to scratch the back and send photos or the code so that they can be used without having to physically hand them over.
That’s the scam. Once you buy the gift cards, scratch the back, and send the photos, you’re stuck. The gift cards get used and you foot the bill. The requester wasn’t your boss, it was a scammer impersonating one of your contacts.
These email scams are low risk and highly successful, which is why scammers have been targeting workplaces.
Next time you receive an email request for a favor that involves making a purchase, confirm with the requester via a known contact method first. Yes, even if they are “in a meeting” or otherwise indisposed. If it turns out to be a valid request and they give you grief, tell them that this is an avenue for scams, and requests like this should not come through online means without an expectation of verification.