Charity Commission issues gift card scam warning

Fraudsters pretending to be chief executives are asking for gift cards to be bought, which they then spend themselves.

Joe Lepper | 18th Dec 18
Image shows keyboard with 'online security' on key

The Charity Commission has issued a warning to charities about a gift card email scam where fraudsters impersonate senior staff.

The scam involves fraudsters pretending to be senior staff, often the Chief Executive, who asks for gift card vouchers to be purchased for staff. Once bought the fraudster then requests copies of the cards and their codes, which they then spend.

Attempts to carry out this form of fraud have been reported to the UK’s national fraud reporting centre Action Fraud.

“Action Fraud are reporting a new variation on this type of fraud whereby charities are targeted by fraudsters falsely claiming to be the CEO (or a similar senior position within the charity) requesting that gift card vouchers be purchased for staff as a form of Christmas gift,” says a Charity Commission statement.

“Once the vouchers have been purchased, the fraudster requests copies of the cards and their codes, allowing the fraudster to spend up to the value of the card.

“Contact is typically made by email, usually from a spoofed or similar email address to the one the CEO or director of the charity would use.”

Charity Commission advice on tackling email fraud

The Charity Commission advises charities ensure to they have robust processes in place to verify payment requests. They should also get in touch with the person purportedly making the request to confirm it is legitimate.

Staff should also be encouraged to challenge suspicious requests and also be careful with handling sensitive information by not posting it publicly or disposing of it in an unsafe way.

“The more information they have about you, the more convincingly they can purport to be one of your legitimate employees – always shred confidential documents before throwing them away,” adds the Commission.