PEOPLE are being warned about a scam that targets staff working from home with a text or email from what seems to be their boss.

The "Boss Scam" starts with a text or email in which a fraudster poses as your boss and requests gift cards for a "work emergency".

Incidents appear on the rise during Covid-19 because more people are working remotely, New York Attorney General Letitia James said on Friday.

She said the hoax typically starts when an employee receives a message from someone pretending to be their employer who claims there is a problem.

The scammer then requires the worker to buy a number of gift cards in specific sums before promising to reimburse them quickly.

The conned employee is then asked to provide the pin or claim code and to send photos.

"Due to COVID-19 safety measures, many employees are still working remotely which makes it easier to fall for this common scam," said Attorney General James.

"A legitimate employer will never ask you to purchase gift cards in order to pay clients or for other business purchases.

"I urge all New Yorkers to be on the alert for this type of fraud, and to protect themselves and their wallets by following our simple tips."


James said you can avoid being tricked by doing the following:

  • Take a pause. Scammers create a sense of urgency to prey on victims’ emotions.
  • Take a second pause. A legitimate employer will not ask you to handle company business through gift card purchases.
  • Verify any supposed emergency by reaching out directly to an employer at the number you know. Do not reply to the text or email sent, even if it appears to come from a known email or phone number.

Sometimes scammers use an employer's actual name, phone number or email address to make things seem more legitimate.

In 2021, one Target worker was coaxed into coughing up $1,400 in company gift cards.

It's being reported that the thieves are currently targeting people in New York.

Anyone who has been targeted should file a complaint to the state by completing and submitting a  Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau online complaint form or by calling (800) 771-7755.

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