FERNDALE, Wash. — Ferndale Police said today that 2 victims of separate scams that started via email have lost over $50,000 between them.
Both victims received emails they believed came from legitimate businesses saying there were problems with the victims’ accounts. The emails asked the victims to call a phone number to rectify the situation, which they did.
In 1 case, the victim was instructed to purchase retail gift cards from 5 different local stores and then provide the numbers off each so they could be redeemed, believing those amounts would be credited to their account.
In the other case, the victim was instructed to complete a wire transfer to a provided account number. Later it was discovered to be an account in Thailand.
Ferndale Police said it is possible the scammer(s) already had some of their victims’ personal information which was used to appear legitimate and earn their trust. They also noted both victims were elderly.
Ferndale Police note that while credit card payments afford some fraud protection, transactions involving wire transfers and gift cards do not. Wire transfers and gift cards are not typical payment options for legitimate business transactions.
Some retailers have begun limiting gift card transactions to protect their customers from becoming victims to this type of fraud. In addition, some retail employees are being trained to recognize when a customer buying gift cards may potentially be a victim of fraud and to make them aware of the risk.
Ferndale Senior Activity Center Directory Karma Wells said she hoped people would talk about this story with their friends who are not technically savvy and may not see it online.