Roanoke Rapids police want to get the word out about a new twist on phone scamming before any city residents lose money.

Capt. Andy Jackson, head of investigations for the Roanoke Rapids Police Department, said city residents need to be wary of any calls originating from an unknown source, claiming to be from a law firm.

“The caller identifies himself as working for a law firm,” Jackson said. “They say they have a contest where you can win $11,000, and all you’ve got to do is purchase a $99 gift card.”

The victim is told to buy the gift card from anywhere they wish, Jackson said, and then the scam artist will call back asking for the numbers on the back of the card. 

Jackson explained the numbers on the back of a gift card can be used to make online purchases, enabling the scam artist to drain funds without ever actually having possession of the card.

“They’re robbing you of $99 and you’re not getting anything,” Jackson said.

One city resident was contacted earlier this week, Jackson said, the caller claiming to be from the Cochran Law Firm. Luckily, Jackson added, the resident did not bite on the scam, but police wished to get the word out before anyone else is contacted.

“Be wary of calls from any unknown source,” Jackson said. “Think about it, you’re not going to get $11,000 for $99. People need to be suspicious of offers for gifts.”

Jackson also advises callers to never give numbers for any gift card or credit card over the phone to anyone who calls them.

He said this latest scam is something of a twist on a scam where the caller claims to be from a reputable store, such as Walmart, offering a gift card in exchange for a $1.99 processing fee, which is required to come from a credit or debit card. The victim then loses the money in their account to the scam artist.

“In bad economic times and when money is bad, people come up with innovative ways to steal your money,” Jackson said. “People need to be very careful.”

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