Gift card scam- don’t be a victim, stay informed


2023-02-01 11:32 PST

File # 2023-2823

Recently a number of residents of Nanaimo have reported losing money to the gift card scam. One resident lost $15,000 while another lost almost $1500. Others would have lost similar amounts if  not for astute and informed employees of local businesses who intervened.

The scam works like this: The target receives a phone call from the scammer who claims to work for either a bank, credit card company, utility company or the Canadian Revenue Agency(CRA). The scammer tells the target that their credit card has been compromised or that they have an outstanding tax bill that must be paid immediately. 

In order to pay the bill or money owing, the target is directed to purchase a certain amount of gift cards at specific locations throughout the city. The victim then heads out to the locations indicated and purchases the cards. The scammer calls back at a specified time and asks for the 10-digit code on the back of each card. When the codes are provided, the scam is complete and in most cases, the scammer moves on to another target.

To protect yourself against this scam,  there is just one thing that people need to know- legitimate companies will NEVER EVER ask you to settle a debt or pay taxes through the purchase of gift cards. It’s as simple as that. If contacted, please tell a friend or post it to social media as there are some who may not be as informed as you and could easily fall prey.

To find out more on current scams go the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website or call your police agency 

Released by

Cst. Gary O'Brien

Media Relations Officer
Nanaimo RCMP
303 Prideaux St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 2N3
Office: 250-755-4460 Ext. 4533
Cell: 250-713-0701
Fax: 250-755-3238


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