Gift card scam targeting local people during the holidays

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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WICHITA, Kan. -- While at a friend's house, Sherry Cowan got a call on her cell phone. The caller had some great news: Sherry had been preselected for a special reward program.

"(The caller) said, 'You'll get a $100 gift card to Walmart or Best Buy,'" Cowan remembered. "She then said, 'That would really come in handy for the holidays, huh?'"

Sherry thought, 'Of course it would.'

"That's why I jumped at it," Cowan said.

The caller told her all she needed to do was give a credit card number to pay the $7 in shipping and handling fees.

She did. But the card didn't follow.

"I never got the package in the mail and I still haven't," Cowan said.

That's because it was likely part of an information gathering scam that the Sedgwick County District Attorney's office says is going around.

"Don't let a stranger befriend you over the phone or email making you believe it is O.K. to give that person your credit card information," the D.A.'s office wrote in a release.

Many people say the calls are coming from what appears to be a local phone number: (316) 202-1763.

"Even though the number in this case showed a local area code, scammers can fake phone numbers on your called ID to make it look like a local call," the D.A.'s office writes in the release. "The majority of the time, the call is not local and may come from another country."

KAKE News dialed the number and got an automated answering service that had a recording about $100 reward cards being offered.

An online search of the phone number revealed numerous complaints about the scam. Dozens of people also posted on the KAKE Facebook page about the scam.

People say the callers speak fast, often have an Indian accent, and sound like they are in a room with other people.

"The man I spoke to was very persistent and smooth talking," Dawn Roque said. "I thought something was fishy because why would I have to pay $6 to activate a $100 gift card that's free?"

Roque says she did not give any information.

But she says about a week later she received a letter from her bank.

"There were some illegal actions on my account," Roque said.

She says she believes it's related to the call even though she didn't provide her credit card number.

Dawn and Sherry want to give others a heads up to be extra careful on the phone especially during the holidays.

"I just wouldn't talk to any of the callers," Cowan said. "That would be wisest."

To report an incident like this or any other consumer-related scam, call the Consumer Protection Division of the Sedgwick County District Attorney's office at 316-660-3653.

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