Gift card scam targets dentists, dental professionals in California

A current email scam is using the name of CDA President Del Brunner, DDS, in an attempt to trick the recipient into purchasing a high-value gift card from a multinational retailer. As of this writing, CDA has not received any reports from members who have received the imposter email but has confirmed that the emails are circulating to individuals in the California dental field.

In imposter emails, texts and calls, scammers pretend to be someone the recipient trusts to convince the recipient to send them money or to purchase gift cards. In a gift card scam, the criminals will ask the recipient to provide the gift card number and PIN on the back of the purchased card.

The emails impersonating Dr. Brunner are brief and written in a casual tone but are not sent from a CDA email address or Brunner’s personal email. The emails are signed “R. Del Brunner.” CDA also received confirmation last week of a similar email that fraudulently uses the name of ADS Dental Practice Transition’s president.

The number of imposter scams reported to the Federal Trade Commission increased by 270% between 2015-18, and the FTC says that gift cards, specifically, are “a scammer’s favorite way to steal money.”

“They like gift cards because, once they’ve got the code on the back, the money is gone and almost impossible to trace,” the FTC stated in a recent blog post.

Typically, the fraudsters request gift cards from popular retailers such as Amazon, Target, iTunes and Walmart. In July, the FTC alerted consumers about a gift card scam in which the criminals posed as a local pastor to ask worshippers for gift card contributions toward a worthy cause.

The details of the current imposter scam, such as the requested gift card amount, the delivery method or the name used to try to trick recipients, may change. But any email or text that asks the recipient to buy a gift card, pay by gift card or wire money for any reason is “a sure sign of a scam – every time,” according to the FTC.

Learn more about gift card and imposter scams, including how to report them, on the FTC’s website.

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