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‘I was scared for my life’: Cranston woman falls victim to gift card scheme

Consumer Investigations

CRANSTON R.I. (WPRI) — A Cranston woman is telling her story in an effort to prevent others from falling victims to the same scheme as her.

“I was scared for my life,” Kimberly Brosco said. “I was scared and I felt like a fool.”

Brosco said she got a phone call in early December that looked like it was coming from a local hospital. Worried about her son, she answered the phone.

When she took the call, Brosco said the person on the other line claimed to be from the FBI.

“There was a gentleman on the phone saying I had a car that was, that’s been, stuck in Texas and it was full of cocaine,” Brosco said.

To resolve the problem, Brosco said she was told to buy gift cards.

Brosco said the man on the phone told her to beep her car horn and flash her lights when she got the gift cards.

“I didn’t know where they were and that what was scaring me, so I’d just figured let me do what I need to do and save myself if I had to,” she said.

When she went to a second convenience store to buy more gift cards, Brosco said she told the clerk to get a good look at her license.

“‘Just in case I end up dead, you’d be the last one I’d see,'” she told the clerk.

Brosco said she realized she fell victim to a gift card scheme, after giving the man the security codes on the cards and losing $600.

“The problem with these cases are that we are contacted after they send the money,” Cranston Police Chief of Administrative Services Major Todd Patalano said.

He said Brosco was one of nearly 100 financial fraud cases in Cranston last year.

“No one accepts gift cards, except for the store that you’re purchasing it for,” Patalano said.

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from a government agency, a police department or a utility company, he said not to pay them and to instead take down their information.

“Contact that agency and ask for that person, if that person is not there ask for a supervisor or someone you can verify the information that you’d received is accurate,” Patalano said.

He said they’re not just after gift cards. There’s also schemes asking to send cash or checks. He said the best thing to do is to contact the police department where you live before giving any kind of payment.

“If you think something is suspicious or you think it may be fraud, we ask you to call us first and we can assist you,” Patalano said. “We can provide detectives who will step in with you and work through the situation.”

In most cases, he said people won’t see that money again, but does urge people to still file a police report.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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