Gift Card Scam

He thought it was a legitimate offer to get paid to be a mystery shopper. He never expected to get scammed.

True story. Happened last week.

He received a letter in the mail with a check for $2,495. The instructions said to cash the check, then use the money to buy four gift cards: two $500 American Express, one $400 Walmart, and one  $500 CVS Pharmacy.

After purchasing, fill out the evaluation form rating the customer service he had received. Then mail the surveys with the gift cards to the address provided, and keep the extra $595 as his commission for work done.

Do this within 3 days.

He cashed the check at Bank of America, who freely handed him the money without vetting the check. He then purchased the gift cards with the cash and kept the extra cash in his wallet. But then something happened.

Just as he was to mail off the gift cards to the perpetrator, he said, “The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said to stop, don’t do it.” He listened to the inner voice.

The next day, he went back to Bank of America to confirm the check had cashed; and Lo and behold, the banker was waiting for him. His account had been flagged and drained of all his funds.

The check was bogus. Neither he nor Bank of America had noticed the fine print “non-negotiable” on the back of the check. BOA did not call to vet the uncharacteristically large check. Neither did BOA hold funds for the check to clear. Now BOA was out $2,495, so in response, they seized all of the money left in his checking account, about $400. He was left with a negative balance.

Bank of America demanded he pay back the negative balance, but they would not take the gift cards. The man had no other money. The BOA manager grabbed the cash out of his wallet and quickly filled out a deposit slip. Now the man had nothing to live on but two quarters in his pocket.

The man went back to the retail stores to return the gift cards, but gift card are non-refundable.

His rent is due tomorrow and he has no money and a negative balance on his checking account.

Bank of America told him when his next auto-deposit of his paycheck arrives, they will seize the money to pay themselves back for the bogus check they so willingly cashed.

The man has gift cards he can use to purchase food and gasoline. Thankfully, he hadn’t mailed those off to the scammer! But how will he pay rent? Will his landlord accept a gift card in lieu of a rent check?

I’ll post the end of the story when it plays out. Meanwhile, don’t fall for the gift card scam!

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