It’s a hot and sticky summer night. The stagnant air is alive with the buzzing of cicadas. Oh, no! What’s that slithering through the grass? It’s a venomous copperhead! You’ve never seen a copperhead in your yard before! Why is it here? Oh, right, those cicadas. As it turns out, copperheads very much enjoy cicadas, so if you have these lumbering buzz-machines hanging around, watch where you walk at night.

Yes, the predators of the natural world are drawn to the vulnerable, the oblivious and the protein dense. When you stop to think about it, copperheads share a lot of the same qualities as a certain type of human. Although we’ve talked about scammers before, it pays to remember that they are constantly lurking and evolving. While the end result of befriending scammers is always the same – your money in their wallet – the ways in which they achieve this change minute by minute.

The most important goal of a predator is survival. It’s because of this that the current group of thieves have discovered gift cards in a big way; halfway through 2019, $74 million was already lost to gift card scammers (AARP.org). While talking victims out of credit card numbers was never problematic, the traceability of the endeavor was (Againstscammers.com). Gift cards shield the perpetrator from identification and ensures that the victim will never see their money again. The best part, for the scammer, is that it’s just so blessed easy.

For instance, this year Katrina Whitaker needed a car. As luck would have it, she found one on Facebook at an amazing price. The seller asked for $1,400 to be paid in eBay gift cards, claiming it was for the safety of both of them. Whitaker then received an email from “eBay,” requesting the card codes so that the money could be held in trust; if Whitaker didn’t like the car (which was being shipped), she’d get her money back. By the time Whitaker understood that the car wasn’t coming, it was too late. The cards had been used and Whitaker’s bank informed her that, since the gift cards had been bought legitimately, there was nothing they could do (Courier-journal.com). If Whitaker had realized that she’d been cheated before the cards were used (how could she not have realized?), the funds could have been frozen. However, once that money’s gone, it doesn’t leave a forwarding address.

While I don’t want to blame the victims of gift card fraud, I’m going to. Since when are gift cards better than good old cash money? A mixture of greed and mad dog dumb decisions are keeping scammers fat. Speaking of greed and the certifiably stupid, “sugar babies” are now being targeted, too. If you don’t know, a sugar baby is a person who receives support from a wealthier patron. In exchange, the sugar baby offers nothing more than platonic companionship all the way up to…um…intimate adult fun time. With this scam, the patron offers to pay off the sugar baby’s credit cards. Once the baby provides their account information, it would appear that the debt has been paid. Then, the patron demands gift cards in appreciation; for some reason, the baby complies and provides the codes. The accounts used to pay off the credit cards are fake, the money disappears from the gift cards and now the baby is in a lot of debt (Fraud.org). While no one deserves to be a victim, isn’t a sugar baby just a prospective scammer in the first place?

There is no such thing as getting something for nothing. Don’t trust strangers on the internet and certainly don’t give out information or money. Easy as that.

Bourke Accounting experts don’t want you to meet a scammer. If you suffer a momentary lapse of judgement, however, your Bourke Accounting specialist can create a plan to help get you back on track again. In a world lousy with nefarious con artists, your Bourke Accounting pro is honest and dedicated – and they’ll never ask you for gift cards.

Come see us any time. Our number is 502-451-8773 and don’t forget to visit our website at www.bourkeaccounting.com. See you soon!

Written by Sue H.