/The Steam Card Scams Keeping Some GameStop Employees Up at Night

The Steam Card Scams Keeping Some GameStop Employees Up at Night

someone walks at a game stop and asks where the gift cards are. They proceed to buy a bunch of them. Not just $40 or $80, but hundreds of dollars worth of Steam cards, Razer Gold, or some other in-game currency. They don’t look like someone who is on the knee deep in the seedy underworld of counterattack skins. The person behind the register is suspicious, but he’s not supposed to pry. They know the customer is probably being scammed, but they don’t want to insult them. It’s all incredibly awkward and sad and it happens more often than you might think.

“We had a very sick old lady who could barely walk and would come in at least once a week to buy $40 to $60 worth of Razer Gold cards,” said Mike, a current store manager. my city (We only use his first name because he was not authorized to speak to the press.) She “She told me about her ‘husband’ of hers who was abroad and how she really needed him at home. This went on for months and she finally confided in me that she had never met him in person.”

However, the woman kept buying the gift cards, sometimes arriving several times a week and spending hundreds of dollars a month. Mike said this went on for years. She wasn’t the only one, though, and things got so bad that at one point the store began hiding some gift cards, like Razer Golds, to avoid the headache. “Steam that we can’t really hide because we sell a ton of those legit ones,” Mike said. “Unfortunately, Razer Gold was only purchased by scam victims.”

Steam gift card scams are becoming more common

Gift card scams of this nature usually revolve around a stranger reaching out online or on the phone and making up a story as to why they need you to send them money in the form of gift cards that they can easily convert online into cash. . Sometimes they may try to trick someone and blame them into giving them the funds. More often, scammers pose as a debt collector or a distant relative who needs the money to get out of a bind.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, gift card scams are on the rise 60 percent from 2016 to 2020. They are so common now that the federal government has a detailed guide to help people avoid them. Steam cards also seem to be a particularly popular form of payment, partly because they’re so easy to resell online. A woman in New Zealand reportedly lost over $30,000 to Steam gift card scams in 2021. It got so bad Valve itself publish a FAQ that same year warning people about different types of fraudulent schemes.

Various current and former GameStop workers my city he spoke to similar shared stories of customers, often elderly, arriving staring, sometimes anxious, with different excuses for why they needed the gift cards. A current GameStop employee recalled a woman walking in asking for $400 in Steam cards. When pressed, she said her friend emailed her saying they were on vacation and had run out of money. The clerk told her that she couldn’t buy more than $200 in a single transaction.

Read more: GameStop employee explains what made her close a store and never return

“A few months ago I had another guy who started coming in every day buying $200 off Steam [cards] because I had a friend who was converting it to Bitcoin and he honestly tried to explain it to me but this was clearly a pyramid scheme or some kind of money laundering but the guy didn’t want to listen so I sold him the cards. the employee told him my city.

The employees said that while the issue is well known, GameStop never had an official policy or protocol to address it. A few years ago, it implemented a limit of $200 on gift card purchases per customer per day, but provided no specific instructions or training on how to talk to customers who might be being scammed. Mike compared this to Best Buy, where he said the gift card section included printed warnings about possible scams.

GameStop is also scammed

Where GameStop has apparently had a zero-tolerance policy for gift card shenanigans is when your own money is on the line. While customers being scammed into buying Steam cards have become more prevalent in recent years, employees are being scammed into giving them away as well. “A common scam is someone pretending to call tech or corporate support,” said a current employee. “They’ll ask an associate to do a simulated transaction on a large number of gift cards to see if it’s working.”

Sometimes the scammer will even recite the names of local staff, all the way to the district manager, to try to gain your trust. Or they will make threats to scare off new employees who don’t want to lose their jobs. “The scammer will ask them to read the card and bam,” the clerk said. my city. “Hundreds have left. Some fraudulent calls have taken $4,000 or $5,000 from a store.”

According to several staff members, these scams targeting GameStop employees have gotten worse over the past year. as training and resources have been cut repeatedly. “It’s a byproduct of the incredible turnover we have,” said Mike, the store manager. GameStop’s corporate office ordered notices posted in back rooms warning employees about scripts used by scammers, and large red stop sign stickers were placed on phones to try to remind them. However, for employees who do not have enough experience, it is not always enough. “16 hours [of training] and then you give them the keys to the store.”

But it’s the cheated customers that can be the most annoying to GameStop workers, especially when they don’t want to listen. Mike said that he remembered an older southern woman who came several years ago and was a huge fan of country music. When she came in trying to buy hundreds of dollars worth of Steam cards, Mike asked why. Apparently, he ran a Kenny Chesney club on Facebook and told her that Chesney himself had joined and befriended her and needed the money for her tours. “I couldn’t talk her out of it.”

However, some people do listen, which can be both a relief and a good feeling. “I have only one good story,” Mike said. “One time, an old man came in saying that he needed $500 in Steam money. I knew instantly what was going on so I asked him directly for what. He said that his sister in Cali had sent him an email and his car broke down and he needed the money for repairs.

Mike said that he explained that the cards were for PC gaming only and asked if the man had actually spoken to his brother. “She thought for a moment before calling his brother,” he said. my city. “After the call, she started crying and thanked me profusely. Brother’s email was hacked and he didn’t even think to call because these older people just aren’t interested in technology and how things work. The idea is so foreign to scammers and hackers that they just don’t understand it.”