AgriLife Information Technology

Can you do me a favor?  

Have you recently received an email from your “boss” with this in the subject line or body? A text from your “regional director” asking you “to do something important real quick?” Did the sender ask you for a mobile contact number and then to buy them gift cards? Then you might be the target of a gift card scam.  

What is a gift card scam? 

A gift card scammer will impersonate your supervisor or someone of authority to you. They will ask you to purchase gift cards for them. The message will indicate there is some urgency, such as “I need these for my meeting” or may even include an explanation for why they cannot talk about this request.  

How does it work? 

The scammer uses a combination of social engineering and spoofing to trick you into thinking that your supervisor is asking you to complete an important task for them. The key components to this scam are urgency and authority – someone of importance to you needs something NOW. You are more likely to do the task rather than to ask questions first.  


  1. The scammer sends you an email asking you for a mobile contact number 
  1. They then message/text you and instruct you to quickly purchase specific gift cards 
  1. You buy the gift cards 
  1. The scammer asks you for the gift card info – usually the card number and PIN or CCV, or a photo of the card
  1. The scammer gets the money you spent on the gift cards – gift cards are frequently treated as cash, and leave no trail 

What are the dangers? 

The best-case scenario if you do fall victim to this type of scam, is that you lose the money spent on the gift card. The worst case is the scammer can access your contact info, banking, and/or credit card information.  

What can you do? 

The easiest way to avoid falling for these scams is to check the actual sender’s email address that the suspicious message was sent from – not just the sender’s name.

The code formula used in the video below is:

IIf(InStr([SearchFromEmail], "@") = 0, "", right([SearchFromEmail],len([SearchFromEmail])))
Check the sender’s address in Outlook


You can also verify with your supervisor that they need the gift cards. Don’t reply to the email requesting the cards, but instead use one of these methods: 

  • Call them using a phone number you already know  
  • Ask them in person 
  • Message them in Microsoft Teams  
Check the sender’s address on your mobile device

If you have already purchased gift cards, don’t panic. Contact the company that sold you the gift card. You should be able to tell them that the gift card was used in a scam and ask for a refund.  

Make sure you keep the gift card and the receipt.  

You should also contact AIT using any of the following methods:

Where can you find more information? 

Contact Info for brands commonly used in Gift Card Scams

The following information was provided by the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Advice Article titled “Gift Card Scams.” Click here to read the full article.



Google Play


  • Call Apple Support right away at 1 (800) 275-2273. Say “gift card” to connect with a live representative.
  • Ask if the money is still on the iTunes card. If so, Apple can put a freeze on it. You might be able to get your money back from them.
  • Keep the iTunes card itself and your receipt for the iTunes card.
  • Learn about iTunes gift card scams and how to report them.


Gift cards are for gifts, not payments.