NEW YORK (WWTI) — New Yorkers working remotely should be on the lookout for a new scam, New York State Attorney General Letitia James warned on Friday.
Fraudsters behind the so-called “Boss Scam” will text or email a person working from home, posing as their boss, according to James’ office. They then ask for gift cards to help with a purported work emergency.
According to James, this scam may be on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic as more employees are working remotely.
“Due to COVID-19 safety measures, many employees are still working remotely which makes it easier to fall for this common scam,” James said. “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.”
The scammer will sometimes use the employer’s actual name, phone number or email address, making it seem legitimate, the attorney general warned.
The fraudster will request that the employee purchase a certain number of store gift cards and promise to reimburse the employee quickly. The scammer may also ask the employee to scratch off the back of the card to reveal the PIN or claim code.
The attorney general’s office offered the following tips to protect consumers against the “Boss” gift card 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 it appears to come from a known email or phone number.
- Be suspicious of anyone who contacts you unexpectedly asking to be sent gift cards.
- Never purchase gift cards for the purpose of transferring money.
New Yorkers who have been targeted by this scam are urged to file a complain to the state by completing and submitting a Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau online complaint form or by calling (800) 771-7755.