September 11, 2021
Did you get an email from your boss asking you for a favor? Does your boss need you to send gift cards to pay for an upcoming office party? Before you go out and pay up, ask yourself: is that really your boss? It could be a scammer trying to get your money.
Here’s how it can play out. The scammer sends you an email impersonating your boss, either using a spoofed email address, or by hacking into their account. They then make up a story about needing your help with something — an office surprise party, a company event, even a simple errand. Whatever the reason, they’ll ask you to help by paying them with gift cards, promising to pay you back later. But once you hand over the gift card number and PIN, the money is gone.
If you get an unexpected email from your boss asking for this kind of help:
- Don’t pay for anything with a gift card. Gift cards are for gifts, not for payments. If anyone asks you to pay with a gift card, it’s a scam.
- Double-check with your supervisor. Call your boss using a known number — not something that was written in the email.
- Take a pause. Can’t reach your manager? Talk to a trusted coworker or friend. Tell them the situation and see what they would do.
Did you or someone you know pay a scammer? Find out what to do next. If you act quickly, sometimes (only sometimes) you can get your money back. But it’s worth trying.
And if you spotted this scam, report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.