There's a new scam making the rounds and it is designed to suck in even the saviest of people: the Gift Card scam.  The Federal Trade Commission is warning that this is "a popular way for scammers to steal money from you. That’s because gift cards are like cash: if you buy a gift card and someone uses it, you probably cannot get your money back."

But here's the kicker, this is a scam that's easy to fall for because the scammer pretends to be someone you know and will likely want to help, like your boss, minister, your child's school principal or even a family member.  Usually, it starts with an email from one of the above mentioned.  The email asks for you to purchase gift cards for a very good reason and then send that person the codes to the gift cards so they can access them.

So if the email comes from your boss it might ask you to buy four $500 gift cards to be used as prizes for employees and they'll pay you back.  If you respond and send an email back, it's guaranteed you'll hear a response back, prompting you to proceed with the purchase.  If you don't respond to the first email, you may get a followup email from (for example) your boss asking you, 'Where are we on this?'.

If you act on the request and purchase these gift cards on your credit card and send the gift card codes to the person on the other end of the email, guess what?  The scammer will spend them down immediately and you’re out a lot of money.

How can you be sure that it's a scam and not a legitimate request?  It’s easy, just call the person who is requesting the gift cards to verify that it's true BEFORE you purchase any gift cards.

The scammers who are doing the gift card con are very clever.  The first phishing email you will receive is designed to seem completely genuine in the way that it is often signed by someone you know and the email address of the sender is even similar to the email of the person the scammer is pretending to be.  So there are no obvious tip-offs to the fact that it's a scam.

For more details on this scam and how it works, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov.