Academic Institutions and Non-Profits Targeted in Scam Requesting Gift Cards

Threat actors in the scamming group “Scarlet Widow” are increasingly targeting school districts, universities, and non-profits in a social engineering scheme. Oftentimes, the actor sends a staff member an email impersonating their boss and requesting them to buy gift cards and send them photos of the back of the cards. According to researchers at Agari, the cards are then traded at a reduced price on the peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange Paxful and the earned bitcoin is then sold for cash. Gift cards are the most reported payment method in these types of scams. The NJCCIC recommends users review the Agari research and avoid complying with requests for the purchase of gift cards received via email without confirming the request via a separate means of communication. We highly encourage educating others about this and similar threats.