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BBB: Scammers may pose as your friend, ask for a favor

people looking at cell phone
Posted at 5:50 PM, Jan 19, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — If you get a text or email saying your good friend needs a favor, it may not be a friend on the other end of the message.

The Better Business Bureau says it's a new scam that targets Hoosiers by playing on their emotions.

The email or message appears to be from a friend or family member and when asked for more details, the "friend" says they are trying to buy a gift card for their niece’s birthday. However, they are traveling and having trouble purchasing the card online.

“Could you get it from any local grocery store around you?” reads the email. “I’ll pay you back as soon as I am back.”

If you do buy the gift card, your “friend” will ask you share the card’s PIN and/or send a photo of the back of the card. Unfortunately, by doing this you are essentially handing money to the scammer. It’s nearly impossible to get the money back because gift cards do not have the same protections as credit or debit cards.

The BBB shared the following tips:

  • Reach out to your friend directly. If you get an unusual request, call or text your friend to confirm their story. No matter how harmless the story sounds, always double-check before sending someone money.
  • Use gift cards wisely. Never do business with anyone who insists on payment with gift cards. Remember, providing the numbers from the back of a gift card is just like sending cash.

Watch the video in the player above to learn more about the scam and to hear from Jennifer Adamany with the BBB.