ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – A Blackberry Township woman reported losing $2,200 on seven Target gift cards to a scammer, according to Kane County Sheriff’s reports.
The victim, a resident of the 93W500 block of South Hyde Park, Blackberry Township, called the sheriff’s office Oct. 7 to report that she had received a call that there was a warrant for her arrest and she needed to pay the fine or she would go to jail, the report stated.
The woman told the deputy she thought it sounded like a scam, so she hung up.
Then the same man called back, but since the caller ID stated .GOV, she thought the phone call was for real, the report stated.
The man, who “was real convincing,” then told her a drug cartel was using her Social Security number to launder money and it was a matter of national security that she post bond on the warrant or she would go to jail, the report stated.
He gave her a case number, his name and a badge number, that further convinced her the call was real.
The caller told her to buy some Target gift cards and read him the card and access numbers and that would post her bond on the warrant, the report stated.
The woman, who had been in Rock Island at the time of the call, drove to Target in Moline and bought two $500 Target gift cards, scratched off the card and access numbers and gave them to the man on the phone, the report stated.
From there, she drove to BMO Harris Bank in Batavia and withdrew $1,100, then drove to Walgreens in North Aurora and bought another Target gift card for $500, scratched off the numbers and gave them to the man she thought was a police officer, the report stated.
She drove to two different Walgreens in Aurora and bought a $500 Target gift card at one and a $200 one at the other, and provided the caller with the cards’ numbers, the report stated.
The scammer then transferred her to another man, purported to be another police officer, who would give her a new Social Security number, but he left her on hold for a while and eventually, he hung up on her, the report stated.
The gift cards could not be canceled, because they had already been used, the report stated.
According to the Federal Trade Commission website, consumer.ftc.gov, people report that scammers, pretending to be from the Social Security Administration, will call to say a person’s number has been linked to a crime.
Usually, the scammer will say a fee is necessary to unblock the Social Security number or to get a new number, and then asks for money to be sent via a gift card, the website stated.
In 2018 alone, more than 35,000 people reported losing $10 million in this scam, the website stated.
The FTC advises consumers that a Social Security number is not going to be suspended and anyone who asks for a person to wire money, send cash or put money on gift cards is a scammer.
Anyone who gets one of these calls can advise the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.