North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice
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The scammer’s toolbox: wire transfers, prepaid debit cards, and gift cards

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Once a scammer has convinced you to pay, how do they get their hands on your money?

Wire transfers used to be the only game in town. Crooks used companies like Western Union and MoneyGram so often that authorities caught on and required those firms to do more to prevent this kind of fraud. Western Union recently paid millions of dollars for failing to adequately protect its customers. Qualifying consumers in North Carolina can now apply for compensation for their losses.

In addition to wire transfers, scammers now have other tools at their disposal. Crooks often instruct their victims to obtain a prepaid debit card. After the card has been activated and the victim has loaded money on it, the crook gets them to provide the account number from the card. The funds are then quickly and untraceably drained from the account. Scammers also use gift cards, including Target, Best Buy, Sam's Club and iTunes gift cards, to take possession of stolen loot when perpetrating frauds like the IRS, Jury Duty, Family Emergency and Grandparent scams.

In the heat of the moment consumers sometimes wonder “Am I being scammed?” If you are being directed to make a questionable payment using one of these methods, the answer is probably “Yes.”

If you are contacted by a scammer, you can report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint online. Get tips on how to spot and avoid scams at ncdoj.gov.