NEW YORK (WWTI) — New Yorkers working remotely may now be the target of a common scam.

New York State Attorney General issued an alert on Friday warning New Yorkers about the “Boss Scam.” This is a common text and email scam in which fraudsters pose as consumer’s employer and request gift cards due to purported work emergency.

According to James, this scam may be on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic as more employees are working remotely.

“Due to COVID-19 safety measures, many employees are still working remotely which makes it easier to fall for this common scam,” Attorney General James said in a press release. “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 warned that the scam will typically send a text or email to an “employee.” The sender will claim to be the victims employees, stating that there is an “urgent” matter. The text will sometimes use the employer’s actual name, phone number or email address, making it seem legitimate.

From there, the scammers will request that the employee purchases a certain number of Target or other store gift cards, promising to reimburse the employee quickly. The scammer may also ask the employee to scratch off the back of the card to reveal the PIN or claim code.

A real example of a 2021 text message from a “fake” employer to an employee is pictured at the top of this story. The scammer was seeking $1,4000 in Target gift cards.

AJ James offered the following tips to protect consumers against the “Boss” gift card scam:

  • 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 it appears to come from a known email or phone number
  • Be suspicious of anyone who contacts you unexpectedly asking to be sent gift cards.
  • Never purchase gift cards for the purpose of transferring money

New Yorkers who have been targeted by this scam are urged to file a complain to the state by completing and submitting a Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau online complaint form or by calling (800) 771-7755.