NEW YORK (WSYR-TV) — New York Attorney General Letitia James issued an alert to New Yorkers on Friday warning them about the “Boss Scam”, a common text and email scam in which fraudsters pose as a consumer’s employer and request gift cards due to a work emergency.
James said the scam may be on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic since many employees are working remotely.
She said the scam typically works as follows: An employee receives a text or an email from someone pretending to be their employer who claims there is an urgent matter. The text or email may ‘spoof’ an employer’s actual name, phone number, or email address, making it seem legitimate. The ‘employer’ then requests that the employee buy a certain number of Target or other store gift cards in specific denominations and promises to reimburse the employee quickly.
As in the real example below, the ‘employer’ may ask the employee to scratch off the back of the card to reveal the PIN or claim code — thus making the gift card the equivalent of cash — and send photos of the card to the scammer.
“Due to COVID-19 safety measures, many employees are still working remotely which makes it easier to fall for this common scam,” said Attorney General James. “A legitimate employer will never ask you to purchase gift cards in order to pay clients or for other business purchases. I urge all New Yorkers to be on the alert for this type of fraud, and to protect themselves and their wallets by following our simple tips.”
James offered the following tips to protect against the “Boss Scam”:
- Take a pause. Scammers create a sense of urgency to prey on victims’ emotions.
- Take a second pause. A legitimate employer will not ask you to handle company business through gift card purchases.
- Verify any supposed emergency by reaching out directly to an employer at the number you know. Do not reply to the text or email sent, even if it appears to come from a known email or phone number.