Victoria police officers are warning the public after two gift card scams were recently reported. Both scams were unique, featuring a request for Steam Wallet gift cards.
Steam is an online video game service, most well known for games such as Counter Strike, Half Life and Portal. The gift cards, which are available online and through many retailers, are only redeemable for Steam merchandise.
Scammers will sell fraudulently obtained Steam Wallet gift cards to unscrupulous gamers at a discount and pocket the money they receive.
The total loss of these two frauds is more than $2,000.
The first scam came from a person negotiating an online vehicle sale and was convinced to purchase Steam Wallet gift cards by the scammer. The fraudster was able to convince the victim to share the numbers on the back of the gift cards, compromising the card.
The second scam happened when the fraudster compromised a local business person’s email. They used that email to direct an employee of the local business to purchase a large number of gift cards.
To avoid detection, the scammers moved discussions with the employee to a text-based phone number. As the business often uses gift cards, the employee didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary. It was only when the fraudster requested Steam Wallet and Google Play Store gift cards did the employee become suspicious and eventually realized the request was fraudulent.
The Victoria Police Department has compiled a list of various things you can do to avoid or reduce losses if someone is attempting to defraud you.
When conducting business online be wary of someone who needs you to buy a gift card before they purchase what you have for sale.
If you have purchased Steam Wallet gift cards but have not yet given the cards or codes on the back of the card to the scammer, do not scratch off or share the codes on the back of the cards. Call the police instead.
Scammers are good at convincing people to do things they wouldn’t normally do by creating a sense of urgency, often by trying to convince you the situation is an emergency. If it doesn’t feel like an emergency to you, it is likely a scam.
Scammers choose gift cards because they’re similar to cash in that they are nearly untraceable. If you are involved in an online transaction where you are asked to purchase Steam Wallet gift cards but the transaction does not involve video games or Steam merchandise, it is likely a scam.
If you’re unsure if you are being scammed, don’t buy the gift cars and call the police. If you know you have been scammed, call the police.
For more information on avoiding fraud, visit vicpd.ca/fraud.