One of the biggest red flags we see in scams today is the request for money through untraceable payment methods. These usually come in forms of money wire transfers or gift cards. That’s because once the money has left your account, its gone and into the scammer's hands. There is no way of getting it back. A recent report to BBB Scam Tracker stated “Publishers Clearing House” sent a prize letter in the mail to a couple claiming they had won $75,000. But in order to receive the prize, they first needed to pay processing and delivery fees. These fees were to be paid via Walmart and Target gift cards in increments of $200. The couple ended up losing over $11,000 in hopes of ultimately getting their grand prize amount.
To halt these scams before it’s too late, the Boise Police Department is working to empower businesses to spot and stop scams in their place with the "Be a Hero. Stop a Scam" campaign.
This campaign is a new initiative that is aimed at retail frontline employees.
Edward Fritz, Crime Prevention Supervisor for the Boise Police Department, has the answer.
“If we can get the teller at a bank or the cashier at the store to recognize red flags, maybe they can stop someone from losing hundreds if not thousands of dollars,” said Fritz.
The main goal of the “Be a Hero” campaign is to educate and empower the frontline employees. Fritz describes a few things to look out for:
- Large money transfers, especially out of the country
- The customer is acting nervous or desperate
- The customer is on the phone being instructed to buy certain gift cards (Visa Pre-Paid, iTunes, Best Buy) in specific amounts
What should a cashier do if they suspect unusual activity?
“Engage in conversation, ask questions” Fritz said.
Having those casual conversations may raise red flags, and make the customer realize the situation they are in.
The Boise Police Department has created posters for retailers and banks to use in their offices to help with this initiative. To get your hands on one, email email@example.com or call 208-570-6071. To report a scam visit bbb.org/scamtracker.