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Kauai police warn of gift card scam via Craigslist

Kauai police are warning the public to be aware of an online Craigslist scam attempting to steal and launder money from victims through gift cards.

Police said there have been recent reports of customers seeking large purchase items on Craigslist.org, but being asked to pay the scammer via multiple gift cards from eBay and iTunes instead of cash. However, they never receive the purchase items in exchange for the gift cards.

“Once those gift cards are paid for and given to the posing seller, they become virtually untraceable,” said Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce of the Investigative Services Bureau in a news release. “We want the public to be aware of this scam and others like it in order to avoid falling victim.”

As the holiday season approaches, police are reminding the public to be even more vigilant of scams.

“Unfortunately, there are many scams that exist these days and the holidays are a common time when scams are more prevalent,” said Ponce. “While our hope is not to scare anyone, it is important to remind the public to be aware of these type of fraudulent activities. Once you give money to a con artist, it is very unlikely you will get it back.”

Residents are reminded to use the following scam prevention tips:

>> Be wary of suspicious payment methods.

>> Use caution when responding to unsolicited calls or e-mails, or unknown individuals on social networking sites.

>> Do not answer or return calls from unknown numbers.

>> Check your bank, credit card and phone statements regularly. If you see an unknown or unauthorized charge, immediately notify your bank or service provider.

>> Senior citizens are popular targets for scam artists because they tend to be more trusting of unknown individuals. Responsible family members should help to keep them safe.

>> If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Anyone who suspects a scam or suspicious activity should contact Kauai Police at 241-1711 and file an official police report.

Craigslist also offers tips for avoiding scams.

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