Gift card scams in the names of famous companies like 'Amazon' and 'Walmart' have increased in recent times. Similarly, there has been an increase in 'cyber' criminals who claim that you have won a huge prize and ask you to pay a service fee for it. Recently the Chandigarh police chief had 'tweeted' about a 'cyber' criminal who was indulging in a gift card scam using his name and photograph. It read, “Don't be fooled if this scammer contacts you using my name and 'DP' (photo) and asks for an 'Amazon' 'Gift Card. I request all of you to immediately report him to the Chandigarh 'Cyber' Crime Branch."

Rashmi, an employee of a private company in Coimbatore, recently lost Rs 1 lakh 28 thousand in a gift card scam. Rashmi's WhatsApp number received a text message from her CEO's WhatsApp number. The person contacted asked her to buy Amazon gift coupons from the link he had sent and send them immediately.

Rashmi bought 5 Amazon gift coupons worth 1 lakh 28 thousand and sent them to that number. After many hours, Rashmi came to know the truth when she shared this with her friends. It was found out that they cheated by using a fake WhatsApp number with their CEO's photo as a DP and the link sent by that person was a fake link that looked like Amazon. Following this, while a complaint was filed in the 'Cyber' Crime Branch, the Cyber Crime Branch police blocked the fraudulent money from being used.

The link most used in gift card scams is sent in the name of the famous company 'Amazon'. Clicking on it will redirect you to a fraudulent website that looks like 'Amazon'. If you look carefully, you can find that the URL is different. Fraudsters will force you to immediately 'click' and buy a gift card without giving it time. You should be alert at that time.

Likewise, “You have won a lottery of five lakh rupees worth. You may receive text messages or 'e-mails' such as 'Click' on this link and fill in your 'Debit Card' or 'Credit Card' details to pay only courier charges for sending it. The lucky gift that was announced never comes. But the amount will be swindled from your bank account.

You may receive ads like “Participate in a survey conducted by a famous supermarket – win amazing prizes” on your WhatsApp number or email. If you 'click' this, they will ask for some information related to the survey and then ask for your personal details to send you the gift. They will steal your “passwords” and money from your bank account.

So, beware of any 'WhatsApp' messages or 'mails' asking you to buy gift cards from famous companies immediately, or to send them to someone. They are most likely to contain fraudulent 'links'. Similarly, never 'click' on 'online' websites that offer free gift cards or freebies. These are scams used by 'cyber' criminals to extort money from you.

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  • Note 1: The names appearing in the incidents described in the article have been changed.
  • Note 2: Be wary of 'WhatsApp' messages or 'mails' asking you to buy gift cards from famous companies immediately, or to send them to someone.