Colorado Springs

SCAM BUSTERS: How to avoid being a victim of gift card scams

SCAM BUSTERS: How to avoid being a victim of gift card scams

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Scammers are relying on gift cards as a lucrative way to move money illegally. 

We all see them in grocery stores, but is it the safest way to give and receive money?

Det. Jon Price with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, explains why gift cards scams are up and coming. 

"They're really big right now because the magnetic strips can be duplicated," he said. "This means the money can be transferred from one card to another very easily."

Here's how it works, meet Lucille

It was an ordinary day for Lucille Bannister, until her phone rang.

"This man called and he said he's from Florida and that he was with my grandson," she said. "The man said he was with his buddy and picked up for speeding."

The scammer claimed he was with her grandson and said he would be detained unless she did the following:

"He says you go buy a gift card at Walmart and that's what I did," Bannister said. "I read those numbers to him and it was all over."

You can buy these gift cards or green dot cards at grocery stores or gas stations. You usually pay for them with cash, but scammers are only after the magnetic strip or the number on the back.

The tricky part for Lucille? The scammers made it seem like they knew her and just wanted to help.

"How he knew everything about me, I don't know, but he knew a lot about me."

The problem?

Scammers have access to sites like Pipl. Although, these sites don't facilitate hacking, it's an easy and fast way to get information about people.

For example, all they would need is a last name or an email address that could lead them to your Facebook profiles or aggregate public information about you on the web.

"I was just dumbfounded, I don't know what he's done or what he's said that I just fell for it all," said Bannister.

The moral of the story?

-Whether it's a scam artist trying to get you to reveal personal information

-A pop-up ad online saying you've "won a free gift card" just click here...

-An online site asking you to disclose your phone number or email address 

If you know of a scam, report it immediately to the Internet Crime Complaint Center or the city's Fraud Prevention and Detection Policy Division.

If you'd like us to investigate your story, email us at


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