BBB Warns Hawai‘i Residents of Gift Card Scam

July 29, 2019, 12:39 PM HST (Updated July 29, 2019, 12:39 PM)

The Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific (BBB) is warning Hawai‘i residents of a gift card scam perpetrated by people pretending to be either a pastor, rabbi, priest, imam or bishop.

The gift card scams are not new, noted a BBB release on Monday, July 29, 2019. However, this iteration of the scam is characterized by a different spin. The scammer pretends to be a pastor, rabbi, priest, imam or bishop and asks the potential victim to contribute gift cards for a good cause.

A potential victim receives an email, text message or phone call asking for a donation of gift cards. The instructions are to buy a popular gift card— from iTunes, Amazon or Google Play, for example. Once the cards are acquired, the scammer asks for the card number and pin on the back. As soon as the scammer has the information, they collect their money and are untraceable.

Red flags include an email address that doesn’t match the one used by the church in question, spelling errors in an email or a simple “Hi” to start an email absent the recipient’s name.


Ways to avoid being scammed include never donating to an unknown individual before conducting research, never sending out a gift card number and pin or by calling the church to verify the request.

To research a charity go to


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