BBB Scam Alert: Does Your "Friend" Need Help?

In this new con, a scammer poses as a friend asking for a simple favor.

Posted: Jan 11, 2022 5:52 AM

If a friend asks for a favor, you do it, no questions asked. Right? Time to rethink that policy.

In this new con, a scammer poses as a friend asking for a simple favor. The email is so convincing that BBB staff almost fell for it!

How does this scam work?

You get an email that appears to be from a friend or family member. The message looks harmless and casual—like something a friend might really write. For example, one version reads: “Hi, how are things going with you? Are you busy? I need a quick favor.” The message even ends with “Sent from my iPhone.”

What does your “friend” need from you?

Concerned about your friend, you reply and ask for more details. The “friend” quickly responds that 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.”

What happens when you help them out?

The request sounds reasonable. But 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.

How can we protect ourselves from this scam?

  •  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.

Where can we go for more info?

Learn more about how scammers use gift cards in this BBB study on gift cards and this tip about gift cons. Also, read more about emergency scams and impostor scams. If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams.

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It was another cool, though overall pleasant day across the Tri-State - after only seeing temperatures dive as low as 22° early this morning, peak temperatures ended up climbing a few degrees higher than Thursday's; that being said, Evansville’s high temperature of 27° Was still 15° below average for this time of the year. As for the evening ahead, temperatures will gradually fall for 23° around dinner time back down to 19° by10 PM. A weak northerly wind flow most of the night paired with our crystal clear skies will cause temperatures to of fall back down into the mid to low teens once again - Evansville's anticipated low temperature of 12° will mark or coolest since the morning of January 7th.
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