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Police warn about gift card scam

A financial scheme comes to an end here in Huntsville, and police want to spread the word so folks can learn from it and hopefully not get scammed.
0220 scam

A financial scheme involving an elderly victim in Colorado comes to an end in Huntsville. Longjin Lin is the man Huntsville police arrested for what they describe as an extortion scam, which spanned across several jurisdictions. Lin was also wanted by the Secret Service for the crimes.

In a press conference today, Huntsville Police Department spokesman Lt. Michael Johnson said Lin stole thousands of dollars from victims and turned it into credit card gift cards.

“This individual’s photo had been circulated among several retailers to include Walmart, and Loss Prevention recognized that person as being in their store Tuesday night and gave us a call,” explained Johnson.

Johnson says the scam started with the victim in Colorado.

“She gave up to I believe it was $19,000,” he said. “Some of it was Fed-Ex’ed. Some was in the form of gift cards, and she purchased gift cards and gave the gift cards over the phone to this individual.”

It’s a common scam police here say happens too often.

“In this scam, [the scammer] claimed they had an automotive contract warranty where a payment was due, and that they needed some paperwork filled out for their banking information,” said Johnson.

The victim fell for it and police say she handed her information over to Lin.

“When he was in our city, what he was doing was taking those gift card numbers that he was given and buying new gift cards with different numbers. That’s how he was washing or laundering the money,” said Johnson. “In all he had about $38,000 in spent or unspent cards.”

Police say the lesson here is that if you get a suspicious phone call asking for your personal info or a payment is demanded — question it. It may be someone on the phone saying it is your credit card company, for example — but police say if something seems off, what you should do is hang up and then actual call up your credit card company yourself and ask if they reached out to you.

Police say to also keep in mind that you can’t always trust caller ID because scammers have the ability to spoof calls.

RELATED: Police warn about spoofing scam calls

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