Local police warn of gift card scam spreading around town

The Batesburg-Leesville Police Department (BLPD) would like all citizens to be aware of a scam reportedly circulating in the area.

The scam targets individuals often in one of two ways. The victim receives a call saying they have won a certain amount of money, but in order to process the money and receive it, the individual must purchase a gift card and give the caller the number off the card or send a picture of the card to the caller. Others are being called and told that they owe money and/or are being sought by law enforcement and must pay a certain amount of money or they will be sent to jail.  These individuals are also asked to purchase a gift card in a certain amount (usually $300, $500, or more) and also send a photo of the card or give the number of the card to the caller.

Most of the callers are asked to stay on the line until the total transaction takes place.  There have been some instances where the caller states that they are the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The scam often targets the elderly, but anyone can be vulnerable.

“It is as though the callers want to keep the individuals on the phone throughout the process so that the individual does not have time to think about what is going on so they cannot contact anyone else,” said Lt. Connie Billings of the BLPD.

Most of these calls originate from outside the United States, so it is almost impossible to track them. Unfortunately, several Batesburg-Leesville residents have fallen for these scams.  One individual lost several hundreds of dollars.  She purchased multiple gift cards, then realized something was strange about the call and drove to the Police Department while still on the phone with the caller. The caller had told the victim that she had committed a criminal act and needed to purchase gift cards or she would end up in jail.

“Many instances like this are taking place, and our department is often notified only after the gift cards have been purchased and the person’s money has been stolen,” Lt. Billings said.

The police department asks individuals to call them before purchasing gift cards or giving out any financial information over the phone to anyone. Law enforcement agencies, IRS, lottery companies, etc. will never call a person to collect fines or money. Law enforcement, courts and other government agencies will always send out a letter for official correspondence, not phone calls – and never will they collect anything in the form of a gift card, Lt. Billings said.

Contact the Batesburg-Leesville Police Department at (803) 532-4408 with any questions or concerns regarding potential scams.