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State Attorney General Letitia James is warning New Yorkers about the “boss scam,” a common text and email scam in which fraudsters pose as a consumer’s employer and request gift cards due to a purported work emergency. The scam may be on the rise during the coronavirus disease pandemic since many employees are working remotely.

The scam typically works as follows. An employee receives a text or an email from someone pretending to be their employer who claims there is an urgent matter. The text or email may “spoof” an employer’s actual name, phone number, or email address, making it seem legitimate. The “employer” then requests that the employee buy a certain number of Target or other store gift cards in specific denominations and promises to reimburse the employee quickly.

The “employer” may ask the employee to scratch off the back of the card to reveal the PIN or claim code—thus making the gift card the equivalent of cash—and send photos of the card to the scammer.

James is advising employees to be suspicious of anyone who contacts them unexpectedly asking to be sent gift cards and to never purchase gift cards for the purpose of transferring money.