Fraudster impersonates Gov. Cox, asks for gift cards

Jun 1, 2023, 10:19 PM | Updated: 10:36 pm

If the texts Jennifer Tarazon received are to be believed, Utah’s governor has a Massachusetts burner phone that he uses to solicit folks to buy gift cards for his staff members as a surprise for which they’ll be reimbursed – oh – and he may or may not know the name of his own wife.

The texts, of course, did not actually come from Governor Cox, and the recipient isn’t your typical victim. Jennifer is the Communications Director at the Utah AARP, where one of their major missions is educating folks about these very sorts of scams.

“We talk about scams to older adults all of the time,” Jennifer said.

As Get Gephardt has reported before, consumer advocates, including the AARP, warn against responding to these types of messages at all. Engaging with the scammer is how victims get reeled in and the simple act of responding confirms that they’ve reached a legitimate phone number.

But when you are a communications director looking to help others, responding can help tell the story of how these scams work. For example, at one point the con artist promised Jennifer she would be reimbursed through a money transfer app which, the FTC has long warned, is a convenient tool that’s frequently used by scammers to steal your money.

Jennifer, of course, did not fall for any of it. The scammer eventually gave up and moved on, but Jennifer did not.

“I said, I am going to reach out to KSL and talk to them.”

Jennifer is certainly not the only person in Utah who has gotten these bogus messages. Best advice if you do get it is to delete it. You can also it to the FBI’s Internet crimes division.

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Fraudster impersonates Gov. Cox, asks for gift cards