By District Attorney Summer Stephan
As your District Attorney, I’m committed to increasing communication and accessibility between the DA’s Office and you, the community. One way I have been doing that is through this monthly column, where I provide consumer tips on public safety matters.
There’s no end to the ideas scammers come up with to cheat you out of money. While everyone can be a victim of a scam, seniors are particularly targeted and can be more trusting and vulnerable. A common practice is to prey on emotions and to create a sense of urgency. For example, the caller will say a grandchild is in trouble in another country and needs to be bailed out or will pretend to be from the IRS saying you owe back taxes. All you have to do is purchase gift cards and then provide the numbers on the back of the card. The gift cards can be from anywhere: iTunes, Amazon or any large retailer such as Walmart, Home Depot, or Target.
These hustlers often send elderly victims to the bank first to get cash and instruct victims to tell bank tellers that they need the money for a home remodel or to give their grandchildren as a graduation present. Once the victim has the cash, they are then directed to go buy the gift cards.
If you are asked to pay a debt via gift card, this is a scam. Here are tips to help you avoid getting bilked:
Gift cards are for giving gifts, not paying debts or transferring money.
District Attorney Summer Stephan has dedicated more than 29 years to serving justice and victims of crime as prosecutor. She is a national leader in fighting sex crimes and human trafficking and in creating smart and fair criminal justice solutions and restorative justice practices that treat the underlying causes of addiction and mental illness and that keep young people from being incarcerated.