Gift card phishing scam: "Can you do me a favor?"

News

Published: 22Apr2020

What is the gift card scam?

You may receive an email that looks like it comes from one of your coworkers,  saying something like: "Can you do me a favor?" 

If you reply, the next email asks you to purchase a gift card on their behalf. The message may say they need the card immediately, but they are too busy to do it, and they will pay you back as soon as possible.

These emails are not legitimate. They are being sent by malicious entities who are impersonating people in your contacts list to gain your trust and exploit you. These kinds of fraudulent emails, known as "phishing", attempt to gain your trust in order to access your personal and/or credit card information, or to get money (in the form of gift cards).

DO NOT click any links or reply to such messages. Delete these emails immediately!


What to do next:

If you believe you have received this type of phishing email:

  1. Contact the person whose name appears in the email (not by replying) to find out if the request is valid.
  2. If not, they should notify their colleagues to be on the lookout for fraudulent emails from them.
  3. Contact phishing [at] mcgill.ca immediately to report the phishing attempt
  4. If you suspect your account may have been compromised, contact the IT Service Desk immediately at 514-398-3398.
     

Scams related to COVID-19:

With the social distancing and work from home measures in place to combat the spread of CoronaVirus (COVID-19), there have been increased reports of phishing campaigns and malware scams. In recent weeks, for example, phishing emails have attempted to impersonate various health agencies.  Please visit Canadian Centre for Cyber Security for the most up-to-date information. 

Attackers are taking advantage of this situation because we are more vulnerable now:

  • We rely more on email and other online communication - it's not as easy to verify the identity of the sender when they are not local.
  • With mobile devices it is easier for attackers to hide the originating email address/location.
  • Attackers leverage everyone’s increased sense of urgency.

Quick links to stay safe while working remotely:


 

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