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Verrelli “Stop the Fraud” Bill to Combat Gift-Card Scams Targeting Seniors Clears Assembly Panel

Cracking down on scammers who are coercing New Jersey residents by phone – predominantly senior citizens – into making large purchases in the form of refillable gift cards, Assemblyman Anthony S. Verrelli (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) sponsored legislation to put a stop to the victimization of vulnerable New Jerseyans.

The impetus for the bill was an incident that occurred in May of this year in Assemblyman Verrelli’s district.  A CVS employee recognized the warning signs of an over- the-phone fraud case and stopped an elderly woman from sending thousands of dollars in prepaid gift cards to the scammers. The employee became suspicious and inquired why, and then notified their manager and the police.

“These types of schemes usually target teens, young adults, and the elderly.” Verrelli said the scams either require residents to read the activation code on the back of the gift cards over the phone or send pictures of this code to the scammers. “It makes it harder for law enforcement to track their location when the scam is ultimately reported to the police. The bill will help combat these online and over-the-phone schemes at the point of purchase.”

The legislation (A-5346) would mandate additional training for retail employees across New Jersey in identifying customers who have fallen victim to instances of over-the-phone gift-card fraud.

“We must do everything in our power to protect our senior citizens and support retail employees, who are invaluable members of our workforce,” said Assemblyman Verrelli. “With this bill, we make sure that these brave employees are equipped with the tools necessary to stop these senseless acts of fraud that target our seniors.”

The bill was approved by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee on Thursday. It will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.