Comment from my friend Bonnie:
In the past two months, I have received three emails from friends asking for help with gift cards for a nephew/relative. In all three instances, I called the friend, and sure enough, they had been scammed. One friend said that I was the 15th caller to report it, and one friend completely deleted her email account and started a new one.
A few months I received such an email from an acquaintance. The email exchange went something like this:
Her: Can you do me a quick favor? Do you have an Amazon account?
Me: I have an Amazon account but do not use it to purchase anything.
Her: I’m having some trouble with my credit card. I would like to buy my favorite niece a $200 Sephora gift card for her birthday.
Me: I’m sorry if I gave you the impression that I would purchase anything.
Her: Can you buy a Sephora gift card at a grocery store?
Me: I don’t know.
Her: Would you try to buy her a card so I can give her your email address and she can tell you where to send it? I’ll pay you back as soon as my credit card is straightened out.
Me: I’m sorry, I can’t help you.
Although I did not spend any money, for two months I was annoyed at this woman who I had considered an acquaintance but not a close enough friend to lend money so she could buy a niece’s birthday gift. I kept thinking if it were my niece I’d send her a nice email wishing her a happy birthday and say I’d buy her a gift as soon as circumstances permitted.
Because I was not aware of this scam until I read Bonnie’s comment, it did not occur to me to email the woman and ask if the email was really from her.
I did send her an email today. She responded that said she had been bothered by an aggressive scammer and had had to make changes to her computer and her email passwords. Some other friends had gotten similar spam emails and had responded but their detection systems had caught the email before they had lost any money. She also has no niece and her credit cards are fine.
Lesson learned and now shared.