FBI Warns Businesses About Increase in Gift Card Fraud

The FBI Department has released a public service announcement warning businesses about the increase in Business Email Compromise (BEC) gift card fraud.

Updated on December 12th, 2018

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A recent Public Service Announcement released by the FBI warns businesses about the significant rise in complaints of Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams involving gift card fraud.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported a notable increase in the number of businesses that are falling victim to this unique brand of fraud. Between January 1st, 2017 and August 31st, 2018, an estimated loss of over $1 million was recorded. In addition, the number of fraudulent gift card complaints requests increased over 1,240%.

The scam usually involves an employee receiving a spoofed phone call, email or text from someone in management, such as a CEO or Human Resource (HR) director. The message encourages employees to buy gift cards for the executive to give away or use to purchase items for the office.

The employee is then instructed to send the gift card information, including the voucher number and PIN, back to their "boss," who will then be able to cash out the value before anyone realizes the message was fraudulent. Some employees have also received additional messages with requests for wire transfer payments.

The FBI's announcement warns businesses and employees to be vigilant during this time.

What Signs Should You Look Out For?

  • Email addresses that look similar to, but not the same as the one regularly used by your work executives or co-workers.
  • Offers to purchase multiple gift cards.
  • Grammatical errors and strange phrases.
  • Messages that pressure you into purchasing the cards immediately.
  • Messages that instruct you to send a wire transfer, PIN, and voucher number.
  • Your CEO or Manager is not able to verify the message.

While the FBI confirms that any company can fall victim to this brand of fraud, there are a number of industries most at risk.

Which Industries Are Most Affected?

  • Technology.
  • Real Estate.
  • Law.
  • Medical.
  • Distribution and inventory.
  • Religious organizations.

If you are a victim of the 'gift card' Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams, you can file a formal complaint at www.ic3.gov.