Scammers offer fake DIRECTV/Amazon deal

Better Business Bureau warns about paying with gift cards

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SAN ANTONIO – A phone scam offering a bogus DIRECTV promotion has hit San Antonio, the Better Business Bureau said.

Shari Henderson found that out the expensive way.

Calling DIRECTV was on Henderson's to-do list. She said she was wanting to drop the pricier channels and save money.  So when her phone rang, it was perfect timing.

"They identified themselves as DIRECTV, and they said they were running a special," she said.

The offer was for all channels for $99 a month for two years. Because the deal purportedly was a promotional partnership with Amazon, she would get one free month by paying the first three with an Amazon gift card.

"I said, 'I'm going to think about it and I'll call you back,'" Henderson said. "I wanted to go to DIRECTV and see if this was for real or not."

Henderson said the caller politely gave her a promotional code to use when she called back.

Because Henderson was rushing to make an out-of-town trip and wanted to take advantage of the supposed limited-time offer, she did not go to the company website.

Her mistake, she said, was calling back on the number that appeared on her caller ID. The fraudsters had apparently spoofed it to make it read "DIRECTV."

"I called back," she said. "You heard the DIRECTV intro and 'Where can I direct your call?' It sounded official to me."

So Henderson bought a $300 Amazon gift card and provided the number on the back. 

When her bill arrived and nothing had changed, Henderson called the real DIRECTV number to inquire. What she learned was that there was no such offer and she had been tricked.

"The easiest way to spot a potential threat or scam is when they are requesting a method of payment," said Miguel Segura, with the Better Business Bureau.

He cautions that legitimate organizations do not request payment by wire transfer of prepaid debit or gift cards.

"These methods of payment are the preferred way of finding out where that money ended up and less of a chance of getting your money back," Segura said.

DIRECTV and AT&T have a fraud warning on their website specifically addressing prepaid card offers.

The ruse cost Henderson $300 and more.

"Just the pain and frustration and embarrassment that people can still be duped, even though they are doing everything they think they should be doing," she said. "I just didn't check enough."

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