Gift card scams

Fraudsters are increasingly favouring gift cards to scam us out of our money. They are easy to buy, are associated with well-known and trusted brands, are hard to trace and are nearly impossible to refund once the balance has been spent.

In the latest scam, hackers exploit compromised or fake email or social media accounts to impersonate your friends, family and contacts. They may contact you, claiming to be in distress or requesting assistance in purchasing gift cards with a promise to reimburse you later. Fraudsters are currently favouring Apple gift cards, but other brand gift cards are also used.


Here are two real life examples of this scam:

If you think you have fallen victim to this type of fraud, or something similar, please use your Weatherbys Card App to temporarily block your card from being used. If you do not have the Weatherbys Card App, please visit the Apple or Google play store.

How do these scams work?

While gift card scams come in numerous forms, they all typically follow a similar pattern:

  • Fraudsters initiate contact through compromised or fake email or social media accounts, posing as someone you know.
  • They fabricate urgent or stressful situations to manipulate your emotions.
  • You will be asked to purchase gift cards, to then send straight to a specified email address, or to share the gift card code and PIN.
  • Once the gift card details are shared, scammers will promptly empty the balance.

Protect yourself with these proactive methods:

  • If the request has come through via email, check the sender email ID. Although email accounts can be compromised, scammers still create fake email addresses to make the email look as though it has come from your known contact; however, once you hover over the link, it may show as a different email ID.
  • Check in with contacts via a different method. As soon as someone asks for a gift card – even a supposed friend or family member – consider it a red flag. Make sure you speak to the person directly, either over the phone or in person.
  • Look for strange language, phrasing or grammar. If they are interacting with you in a way that is inconsistent with their usual style of communication, it is likely to be a scammer.
  • Strengthen your account security by utilising strong passwords, enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) and monitoring accounts for any signs of hacking or fraud.