A new online scam has cost multiple people thousands of dollars according to Victoria Police.
The scams involved con men asking victims for ‘Steam Wallet’ gift cards, which can be redeemed on Steam, an online video game service that sells PC games, similar to a brick-and-mortar EB games store.
Over the past month, VicPD received two reports of online scams that shared the unusual request of Steam gift cards.
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In the first case, a Victoria resident was negotiating an online vehicle sale when they were convinced to also purchase a Steam Wallet gift card by scammers. The criminals were then able to convince the victim to share the number on the back of the gift cards they just purchased, thus compromising the value of the cards.
In the second case, scammers impersonated a local business operator and contacted one of the business’ employee’s through their work email.
They instructed the employee to purchase a large amount of gift cards, which did not immediately strike the employee as suspicious as the business often uses gift cards in their daily activities.
To help avoid detection, scammers then moved the discussion onto a text-based phone number.
However, the employee grew suspicious once the fraudsters requested that they purchase Steam Wallet and Google Play gift cards.
The employee then contacted the business operator directly and learned that the request was fraudulent. Police were then notified of the incident.
- Two separate incidents of rental scam reported for one residence in Colwood
- VicPD recovers more than $35,000 from international online money scam
“Scammers like gift cards because they are similar to cash in that they are nearly untraceable,” said VicPD in a statement.
“While these two files feature Steam Wallet gift cards, we have seen gift card scams from many different retailers. Steam Wallet gift cards are unique in that they can only be used for Steam merchandise. If you are involved in an online transaction where you are asked to purchase Steam Wallet Gift Cards but does not involve video games or Steam merchandise it is likely a scam.”
According to VicPD, the combined loss of the two frauds was “well over $2000.”
How to protect yourself
To help protect yourself from online scams, VicPD recommends five different safety tips.
- When conducting business online be wary of someone who needs you to buy a gift card before they purchase what you have for sale.
- If you have purchased Steam Wallet gift cards but have not yet given the cards or the codes on the back of the cards to the scammer, do not scratch off or share the codes on the back of the cards. Call the police instead.
- Scammers are good at convincing people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. A key technique is to create a sense of urgency, often by trying to convince you that the situation is an emergency. If the situation does not feel like an emergency to you, it is likely a scam.
- If you are unsure if you are being scammed, do not buy the gift cards and call the police.
- If you know you have been scammed, call the police.