New scam in Pennsylvania involves scammer getting you to pay taxes….in gift cards

11 December 2023- Treasurer Stacy Garrity today warned Pennsylvanians that scammers are targeting residents in a new scam involving false promises of a state grant and fraudulent requests to pay taxes using gift cards.

In this scam, unsuspecting residents receive a call, an email, and/or a letter claiming to be from the Pennsylvania Treasury Department or the Federal Reserve Bank, fraudulently indicating that the recipient will be awarded grant money – but first must pay taxes. In at least one case, the recipient was told to make the supposed tax payments with gift cards.

“This is a vile and outrageous scam. Fraudsters and scammers are despicable criminals who will stop at nothing to exploit innocent people to steal their hard-earned money. I urge everyone to stay vigilant and be extra suspicious of any communication that seems too good to be true.”
 Pennsylvania State Treasurer, Stacy Garrity

Treasury does not announce grant awards, and it does not collect taxes. In addition, Treasury will never request that a payment be made with a gift card – and neither will any other legitimate government agency.

Based on the facts currently known to Treasury, this appears to be a multi-faceted scam.

In one case, an elderly Indiana County resident was initially contacted by telephone and told that he would receive a $25,500 grant from the state – but had to pay thousands of dollars in taxes first, using gift cards. He purchased the cards, called the scammer back and provided the information needed to access the gift cards. This happened multiple times.

After receiving multiple payments, the scammer followed up with a letter via email in an attempt to steal even more money. At that point, the victim’s brother saw the letter and stepped in.

A phone number included in the letter leads to a voicemail box falsely indicating that the caller has reached an employee of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Treasury has provided information about this scam to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Those who believe they have been the victim of a scam or attempted scam should immediately report it to the Federal Trade Commission, the Pennsylvania Attorney General, and their local law enforcement agency.

If you or anyone you know has received suspicious correspondence claiming to be from the Pennsylvania Treasury Department, please contact Treasury at https://www.patreasury.gov/contact/ or by calling 717-787-2465.