Friday, August 23, 2019

Victoria, BC- Officers are warning the public after a new twist on a familiar scam has come to light.

Two gift card scams have been recently reported to officers. Both of these scams were unique in that they featured a request for Steam Wallet gift cards. Steam is an online video game service, most well-known for games like Counter Strike, Half Life and Portal. Steam Wallet gift cards, which are available online and through many retailers, are only redeemable for Steam merchandise. Scammers will sell fraudulently obtained Steam Wallet gift cards to unscrupulous gamers at a discount and pocket the money they receive.  The total loss of these two frauds is well over $2000.

File | 19-34307

A person who was negotiating an online vehicle sale was convinced to purchase Steam Wallet gift cards by scammers. In this instance, the fraudsters convinced the victim to share the numbers on the back of the Steam Wallet gift cards. Once the numbers on the back of a gift card have been shared, the card has been compromised.

File | 19-34884

Fraudsters compromised a local business person’s email. They then used that email to direct an employee of the local business to purchase a large amount of gift cards. To avoid detection, the scammers moved discussions with the employee to a text-based phone number. As this business often uses gift cards, the employee at first did not thing the request was out of the ordinary. It was only when the fraudsters requested Steam Wallet gift cards and Google Play Store gift cards that the employee became suspicious. The employee contacted the business person directly and learned that the request was fraudulent.

There are several things you can do to avoid or reduce losses if someone is attempting to defraud you.

  1. When conducting business online be wary of someone who needs you to buy a gift card before they purchase what you have for sale.
  2.  If you have purchased Steam Wallet gift cards but have not yet given the cards or the codes on the back of the cards to the scammer, do not scratch off or share the codes on the back of the cards. Call the police instead.
  3. Scammers are good at convincing people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. A key technique is to create a sense of urgency, often by trying to convince you that the situation is an emergency. If the situation does not feel like an emergency to you, it is likely a scam.
  4. Scammers like gift cards because they are similar to cash in that they are nearly untraceable. While these two files feature Steam Wallet gift cards, we have seen gift card scams from many different retailers. Steam Wallet gift cards are unique in that they can only be used for Steam merchandise. If you are involved in an online transaction where you are asked to purchase Steam Wallet Gift Cards but does not involve video games or Steam merchandise it is likely a scam.
  5. If you are unsure if you are being scammed, do not buy the gift cards and call the police.
  6. If you know you have been scammed, call the police. 

For more information on Steam Wallet gift cards and how to avoid being scammed please visit:

For more information on avoiding fraud, please visit:


File #: 
19-34307, 19-34884