Again this week, we had an employer tell us that one of their new employees, unfortunately, was duped by the gift card scam. If you are not familiar with how the con works, Knowbe4, cyber security specialists, have an excellent blog article on the topic.

A few times a year at our office we purchase multiples of gift cards for holiday gifts, referral gifts, raffles and other events. In the past we have asked an employee, that was out and about, to purchase the cards and we later reimbursed them. We no longer do this, and have a set policy because of these types of scams, that luckily nobody from the FLCC team followed through with. I am thankful they took time to verbally verify with me before making the purchase.

This current scam targets the employee.

The employer’s reaction to the employee falling for the scam hopefully will be in line with the steps below.

First, offer grace and mercy, especially important if the employee is new to the company.  The whole incident will be an embarrassment to the employee themselves. They will also have to make the time to resolve the issue and report the fraud while worrying about the employer’s reaction.

Second, don’t lose trust in the employee. This phishing bait has not only been taken by employees. Reports of business partners who thought the other sent the message to them, and executive team members that work for a CEO are also common to hear. This can happen if the CEO emails and texts regularly; yet is rarely readily available by phone. The ability to move forward and focus on how well they perform the job they were hired to do speaks volumes of an employer’s leadership attributes.

Harvard Business Review expert Anthony K. Tjan wrote this article back in 2011 which elaborates to how people respond to email and text. If you are thinking that you would never do anything like this, beware as you could fall for the next scam outsmarting even you!

Third, provide reassurance, and if possible, assistance to the employee through the claim process while warning others in your organization of the potential threat at bay.

Knowbe4 provides a suggested note to send to your staff. For the Construction Industry you may want to use this one with a more direct message:[/vc_column_text]

To All Employees of XYZ Construction:

If you receive emails or texts from anyone in authority over you including our CEO, to make a purchase for gift cards or any other item that is not standard;

  1. Notify your direct supervisor of the request to see if they know anything about it
  2. Verify the email or text address/number match the person requesting exactly.
  3. Confirm with the person via telephone or in person before ever following through with the request.

The email scam artists are getting more and more believable, some even have the ability to tap into a company’s server and send a scam email from what appears to be inside the company. Do not comply with a request that seems out of normal business practice and has not been confirmed through verbal communication direct with the requesting person.

If Any Doubt – Check it Out!

Thank you,



If you are an employee that has fallen for the gift card scam, Site Jabber has provided instructions for getting your refund.

You may also want to report it to the Department of Criminal Justice:

Most employees want to win favor with the CEO and other lead executives within the company they employ. Part of winning favor with them is following instruction. New employees or employees that have little interaction with the CEO or lead executives other than through email and text may be, as the Knowbe4 article states overzealous, and they become more focused on pleasing the boss, versus the request. This scam targets reactive responses and the human desire to please a superior much the same way a shady employer can get and employee to do things that are leading to fraud, yet they can’t see beyond obeying the current request on the table – Why? You don’t question the boss – or do you?

Your reaction to an employee who was duped, only wanting to please you, will show what type of leader you are to others around you. Firing the employee will throw salt in an open wound of regret and will serve that employee a second regret, having ever said yes to work for your company.   Apply the when in doubt, check it out. The scam did not cost you anything, but doubt in the employee. This incident aside. How do they perform in their job?

To When in Doubt, Check it out; by phone!

Suzanne Breistol


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