Watch Out for This Gift Card Scam

| December 04, 2017

I couldn’t believe what happened to me!

Here we were enjoying the Labour Day weekend at one of my favourite restaurants in one of the best cities in the whole world, Ottawa, Canada.

After enjoying a good meal in the Byward Market, we decided to use our $100 dollar gift card given to us by a friend to pay for the meal. However, being prudent we decided we would only use half of the gift card and save the other $50 for another occasion.

That other occasion showed up this past weekend

We went to another location of the restaurant and, after enjoying our meal we decided to use the rest of the gift card.

It was embarrassing as well as surprising when the waitress came back and said the gift card had $0 on it. Luckily, we kept the receipt from the original transaction. The card number on the receipt didn't match the card we were given back after our first meal.

What happened was the scam artist waitress in Ottawa switched our gift card for a blank one and took the gift card that had the remaining $50 on it. When we called the head office of that restaurant, they had heard of this before, and also informed us that the card had been used the next day somewhere in Manitoba.

As an advocate to help people live safer lives through insurance and other valuable information, I was disappointed that some people can be so desperate.

So let me rant a little bit

My experiences might help save some of you the trouble I've faced.

Be careful with online auctions and other online sales

With this scam people sometimes offer items for sale that they don’t even own, or offer to buy your stuff and use a fake check or some other false payment method. Some websites have even been set up as online storefronts, marketing nonexistent goods at too-good-to-be-true prices.

eBay and Craigslist have published guidance on how to avoid scams. The main tip is never to wire payments to someone you don’t know. Don’t use escrow services suggested by the other party, or services like PayPal. If the site seems too good to be true, don't use credit cards both for selling and buying or using services like PayPal. As for phony websites, search the name of any company you’re thinking of buying from along with the word 'scam' and see if anything shows up.

Send money please!

This crime usually involves an email, supposedly from someone who you know, who is in distress. They may have been arrested, trapped, or mugged, and they need you to wire money usually by Western Union or money gram. Anyone asking you for your login credentials through an email, or asking you to send money through an email is a definite red flag.

Some other scams:


This is where crooks use an attachment or some other device to read your card details at an ATM. Check out the front of the machine carefully before putting in your card, and if the device ever keeps your card phone the bank immediately and have that card cancelled.

Event tickets

These might be advertised online, in a local paper, or even offered outside the venue. You should always buy your tickets from authorized sources only. If you’re tempted to buy, ask for the ticket number or the seat numbers, then check them out with the organizers. This is not a guarantee, but it might frighten off a would-be scammer.

We're here to help!

If you have a concern about identity theft, home scams, investment scams, or other financial scams, and you wonder how this may play out with your insurance please give us a call here at Bethel Insurance Brokers at 905-683-2323.

We're happy to help.