What happens to a gift card given to a scammer?
N2K logoNov 2, 2022

Cofense has released a report discussing Business Email Compromise and the movement of gift cards when used for fraud.

What happens to a gift card given to a scammer?

Cofense released a report today in which they detail trends in Business Email Compromise and explain what would happen if you gave scammers traceable gift cards.

About Business Email Compromise.

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a commonplace problem, and has been for a long time. BEC saw its origins in the hoary Nigerian prince scams, yet the criminals behind it continue to be innovative in finding ways to target consumers. Often, you’ll see BEC scammers impersonating C-suite executives to make wire transfers to vendors, organizations, and accounts that they control.

The role of gift cards.

BEC scammers often ask victims to purchase gift cards. Once gift cards are stolen, they are sold via gift card exchanges or cryptocurrency exchanges, where those buying can get Bitcoin or Ethereum for the gift cards. Remotely sold gift cards often go for 80-85% of face value, whereas locally sold cards can go for around 50% of the face value, depending on the country.

What happened to the cards once the crooks had them.

Cofense researchers purchased $500 worth of trackable gift cards to see where they would go after the cards were given to a scammer. Scammers were found to prefer in-store cards, and tended to be flexible with what was available. The experiment showed how quickly scammers move funds, showing that in all but one case, the gift cards were stolen, re-sold, and used for purchases within a day.