The City of Vermilion Police Department (VPD), on a fairly regular basis, receives a specific type of a fraud complaint and completes a report. These complaints have many different scenarios, but they are all typically proceeded by an unsolicited email or phone call stating that there is some type of issue with a type of account that the user holds, i.e. an Amazon, Ebay, IRS, etc. account. These emails or phone calls "require" your immediate action to avoid some type of account suspension, or legal / criminal action. The user then contacts the sender with the assumption that the warning came from the company that sent it. Upon making contact with the sender, the account holder is told that there is some type of major problem with their account and the only way to rectify the problem is with money. So, any and all of the above steps in this type of scenario should be a huge red flag and should lead the account holder to be skeptical.
But this next step in the process of "clearing your account" is indicative of a definite fraud scam. The "customer service representative" on the phone, chat or email cannot accept a credit card payment to take care of the issue. They instruct our victim to purchase some type of gift card(s) at a store, i.e. big box store gift card, Apple, Amazon, whatever, for a certain amount. They then instruct the victim to scratch off the covered code on the back of the card and provide the code to the representative. As soon as this is completed, the representative (suspect) has access and control of those funds and they are withdrawn. That money is gone and the transaction is not traceable and it cannot be cancelled because it is a gift card, not a credit card that can be stopped, reversed or refunded.
On top of all of the above, the suspects are 99.99% or the time located outside the United States, outside of our jurisdiction.
Unfortunately, the typical victim targeted with these crimes are our elderly population. The VPD is asking everyone to please speak with your family and friends, particularly the elderly, and make them aware of these types of scams. Many times while speaking with the victims, the VPD asks why they didn't ask any family members for help. Often it is due to a feeling of embarrassment of the "issue", even though the problem has been fabricated by the suspect / thief.
This is a serious problem. VPD has had victims taken for over $10,000 in the past. The Department is asking that you speak with your family or friends. Note that all those Vehicle Warranty Expiration phone calls are also a scam.
If you aren't sure if something is a scam or not, contact the VPD Detective Bureau.