There’s a New Gift Card Scam to Be Wary Of—The Rich Grandma Scam

Updated: Apr. 10, 2023

If you receive a message from someone claiming to be your wealthy grandmother, beware.

Scammers are nothing if not creative. Just when you think you’ve heard about every scam in the book, a new one emerges. It has become increasingly popular for unsuspecting people to fall victim to gift card scams, but the best way to thwart these fraudsters is to learn their game before they have the chance to target you. So, what’s the latest scam to watch out for? The rich grandma gift card scam is beginning to make the rounds, but you won’t have to worry once you know how to spot it.

What is the rich grandma scam?

Burglar Phone Scam Illustration Conceptwenmei Zhou/Getty Images

The latest online scam is called the rich grandma scam, and if you didn’t know better, it would be easy to fall victim to it. The scammers reach out to their target via Facebook direct message claiming to be a wealthy grandmother promising more than one million dollars and a brand-new home. When the target agrees, the “grandmother” informs them that they will need to first pay $15,000 in taxes upfront.

The scam takes shape when the target is asked to purchase $15,000 worth of gift cards and share the activation numbers and photos of the gift cards with the “grandmother.” All of this communication typically occurs via WhatsApp, and in some cases, the fraudster even stages phone calls posing as the grandmother’s lawyer. Then, the target receives a number of checks from the “grandmother” that ultimately bounce, leaving the target without their money and with no recourse.

How to protect yourself from the rich grandma scam

While scammers are clever, educating yourself about their tricks is the best way to avoid falling victim. There are a few key tips to help you protect yourself from the rich grandma scam as well as other internet scams:

  • Avoid sending any form of payment to anyone you don’t know personally.
  • If a situation sounds too good to be true it likely is, so beware.
  • If anyone contacts you out of the blue offering money, seek the advice of a lawyer or financial advisor to confirm the legitimacy of the offer.

Ultimately, the best way to combat scams is to ask questions and be wary of those you meet on the internet. Fraudsters are smart, but you can be smarter.