Residents urged to guard against gift card scams

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - 11:31am

The Wake Forest Police Department (WFPD) is warning residents that law enforcement officers are being impersonated in a recently reported phone scam.

Although WFPD has not received any reports, Raleigh Police have reported incidents of residents receiving calls from individuals posing as Wake Forest Police officers. The subjects tell the victims to purchase and send various gift cards to avoid being arrested for outstanding warrants. The caller often claims a warrant has been issued for their arrest, or soon will be, but they can pay a fine now and avoid being arrested.

In another common scenario, the scammer asks you to buy Google Play gift cards from the nearest retailer. After you buy them, the scammer asks for the code on the back of the card or an image of it. Once you provide the code, the scammer can use all the money on the gift card. In most cases, they will spend it all before you can contact Google or the police.

Police say these con artists are trying to exploit your fear of getting on the wrong side of the law and hoping they can squeeze money out of you before you realize it’s a scam.

To protect yourself, remember:

  • Fines cannot be paid directly to an officer by wiring money or with prepaid credit or gift cards;

  • Never use Google Play gift cards to pay for anything outside Google Play;

  • Never share the code on the back of a gift card;

  • Never provide or confirm personal or financial information to anyone who calls you;

  • Legitimate public officials won’t call to threaten you with arrest for failing to pay a fine or court costs;

  • Hang up on scammers and other crooks who try to trick you out of your hard-earned money;

  • If someone tries to get you to use a prepaid debit card or a gift card to pay money they say you owe them, you are almost certainly being scammed.

Finally, if you get a call and are unsure whether it is a scam, look up the number of the company or public agency asking you to make a payment, call it directly and ask about the request.

If you believe that you are a victim of this type of crime, report it to the Wake Forest Police Department at 919-554-6150.