Thieves are targeting seniors in a gift card scam. (Black Press file photo)

Thieves are targeting seniors in a gift card scam. (Black Press file photo)

North Okanagan seniors scooped by scam

Several elderly residents have tried to purchase large amounts of gift cards for scam

A potential scam artist has gotten a few locals in their grips, but some Good Samaritans are hoping to break them free.

Staff at Vernon’s Safeway and Freshco stores have turned away at least three seniors who have come in wanting to buy between $2,000-4,000 in gift cards.

“Vernon’s elders are being targeted for gift card scams,” said Allison Toki, who has made a public plea to help others educate the seniors in their lives.

Using cash, at least one senior has been told this is a scam but he is insistent it is not.

“Please talk to the elders in your life. Tell them to call you immediately if someone calls or sends a letter asking for gift cards to pay anything,” Toki urges.

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP agree that discussing the matter with a family member or trusted friend is important.

“Never rush into a decision because someone is pressuring you,” Const. Chris Terleski said.

Scams and frauds tend to follow some basic principles, and identifying these key indicators will help you recognize you are a target of a scam so you can take action to protect yourself.

Warning signs you may be the target of a scam:

• Scammers pretend to be from an organization or a customer you know to avoid suspicion;

• Scammers present a problem or a prize as a lure to gain and keep your attention;

• Scammers pressure you to act immediately;

• Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way allowing them to collect their money quickly and without trace.

Tips to protect yourself:

• Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

• No matter who you think is calling, never give out personal information over the phone.

• Never pay a debt by crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others.

• If someone contacts you alleging to be from a company, hang up and contact the company yourself to verify the information.

• If you didn’t make the call, you don’t know who you are talking to.

“Remember, it’s not a crime to hang up the phone,” Terleski said.

READ MORE: Graffiti painted over Vernon museum entrance

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@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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