Cuyahoga County Scam Squad cautions public on scammer’s favorite tool

19 News has teamed up with the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad to bring you the latest scams and to protect your cash.
Published: Dec. 19, 2019 at 6:25 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cuyahoga County Scam Squad is sending a warning about a favorite tool for scammers.

“It’s easy. It’s hard for law enforcement to trace," said Sheryl Harris, with the Scam Squad.

During an eight month period this year, Americans reported losing more than $74 million through scams with gift or re-loadable cards.

Harris said other than gift cards being difficult for law enforcement to trace, there are a few reasons scammers like this method of payment.

“It’s quick to get those funds off a gift card," said Harris.

If someone asks you to buy gift cards, the first thing you should look out for is if the person is also asking you to scratch off the back to expose the numbers.

'When you’re exposing the number, whoever gets that can take the funds off of it. That for you should be the red flag," Harris explained.

If you do fall for the scam, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Act fast: scammers can strip off the funds within hours or even minutes.
  2. Call the number on the back of the gift card: only the company you bought a gift card for can assist you in getting your money back. Your bank can’t help in this situation.
  3. Pay attention to gift card purchases limits at stores. They’re in place to protect you.

If you fell for this scam or if you got an email or phone call asking you to buy gift cards, but you didn’t fall for it, contact the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad at 216-443-SCAM.

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