Hub for reliable, timely news about COVID-19 pandemic

Over 200 victims lost thousands in scam involving “stimulus gift cards”

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
Data pix.

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- How would you like to pay $100 for a $1,000 gift card? It's a scam through which people lost thousands of dollars -- and the mastermind faced jail time.

"In this case, they were required to submit $119 dollars, in particular, and they would be getting a $1,000 dollar gift card. That gift card in turn for expense -- whether it`s grocery shopping or putting gas in the car -- any expense you deemed necessary," U.S. Postal Inspector Charles Conliffe said.

A letter made the offer. It says "Due to the economic hardship consumers are experiencing at this time, your household was selected to receive a stimulus gift card in the amount of $1,000."

Victims were told to fill out an acceptance form and send in the activation and processing fee.

"I think once they saw the work stimulus it triggered a reaction, I guess subconsciously, where they said 'if I can get this help, I can do it. So why not send a nominal fee if I can get the help in return,'" Conliffe said.

Postal inspectors say the scam preyed on people in need.

"People who are desperate, if you are in a tight situation, people are more likely to fall in or be cajoled into something that seems too good to be true," Conliffe said.

More than 200 victims lost $50,000 in this scheme.

Inspectors say consumers should be alert.

"If you`re being solicited to give funds to get funds - I would stay far away from it," Conliffe said.

As always, research is key.

"If you don`t do your homework or do any background check you are susceptible to being a victim to anything," Conliffe said.

There is no such thing as a stimulus card as advertised in this case. If you see a solicitation offering a stimulus gift card, be wary.

The con artist behind this scam was convicted and sentenced to a year in jail. She was also ordered to pay back $20,000.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.