Consumer Alert: Gift card scam costs victims thousands

Who wouldn't turn down an offer to pay about $100 in return for a gift card worth almost ten times more? Con artists have found plenty of people who wouldn't and it has cost those people tens of thousands of dollars.

"In this case, they were required to submit $119, in particular, and they would be getting a $1000 gift card," says U.S. Postal Inspector Charles Conliffe.

The offer came in a letter saying "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 as well as send in the activation and processing fee.

"I think once they saw the word '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," says Conliffe.

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," says Conliffe.

More than 200 victims lost $50,000 in this scheme. Inspectors say consumers should be alert to this red flag.

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

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," says Conliffe.