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Edmonton family says senior scammed into buying $4K in Sephora gift cards

Click to play video 'Edmonton family says senior scammed into buying $4K in Sephora gift cards' Edmonton family says senior scammed into buying $4K in Sephora gift cards
WATCH: An Edmonton family says their 85-year-old mother-in-law was scammed into buying $4,000 in Sephora gift cards. Now they're speaking out to alert others and with the hope of getting the money back. Chris Chacon reports.

An Edmonton family says their 85-year-old mother-in-law was scammed into buying $4,000 in Sephora gift cards.

Now, they are speaking out to alert others and hope to get the money back.

“They told her, ‘What you need to do is get in a cab, go to West Edmonton Mall Sephora and buy $4,000 worth of gift cards,'” the victim’s son-in-law Greg Cars said Saturday.

Cars said the scammers told the senior if she bought the cards, it would help prevent fraud on her bank account and Visa card.

“They were people impersonating one of our major banks and associated credit cards. They had enough information that she thought the call was legit,” Cars said.

Read more: Edmonton police warning of coronavirus scams after 3 lose more than $17K

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“No legitimate institution is going to call you up and threaten you to get you to go out and buy gift cards,” said Jeff Thomson, RCMP intelligence analyst with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

It wasn’t until she returned home that it dawned on her that she was being scammed.

“They are calling anybody and everybody but we do see more reporting from seniors and it may be oftentimes seniors are more isolated than other Canadians or living alone,” Thomson said.

The woman was supposed to send the cards to the caller but didn’t. Her family phoned Sephora’s head office hoping for a simple return.

“I was informed that all the stores are independently operated. [They said] there’s nothing they can do and they gave me the typical numbers for fraud awareness,” Cars said.

The family called the store looking for a solution.

“[The store said,] ‘There’s really nothing we can do because all these cards are non-refundable,'” Cars said.
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Sephora said in a statement: “We were sorry to hear about this family’s situation and have been in direct contact with them to direct them to the resources that can help resolve it.

“The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) has alerted consumers about gift card scams that have been rising in frequency and we encourage all of our clients to contact their financial institution and file a police report as well as a complaint with the CAFC if they believe they were the victim of a scam.

“We are unable to speak to the specifics of any cases given the involvement of local authorities,” the statement continued. “As an organization, we take these scams very seriously and continue to implement preventative measures to ensure our employees are aware of the issue and have the education and tools to recognize fraudulent, high-value purchases within our stores.”

Read more: RCMP looking for bank fraudsters from incidents in Leduc and Edmonton

Cars said Sephora has offered to exchange the $500 gift cards for $100 ones. They’re trying to sell them independently to recoup their losses.

If you receive a suspicious call, CAFC recommends taking no immediate reaction, consulting a family member and doing your due diligence.