A new scam uses real estate agents’ names to ask co-workers to pick up hundreds of dollars in gift cards for specific reasons such as closing gifts for clients.


Scam artists are using trusted names and companies to ask for “favors,” and in turn steal victims’ money, according to a news release from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.


While some scams use fear and threaten arrest or cancelation of services if not paid, others convince people that they will be paid back whatever monies they spend on gift cards.


“As we become more aware of possible scams, these bad actors are upping their game and using the people we know and trust to get to our money,” Rutledge said. “They use familiar names and have believable requests, but when it comes to your money always use an abundance of caution, pick up the phone and call directly.”


Real estate agents can be particularly vulnerable because their name, phone number and place of work are easily accessible, but they are not the only ones susceptible to these scams.


Rutledge released the following tips to help keep Arkansans safe:


• Managers should instruct their staff on what the company’s purchasing practices are — consider adopting and explaining a policy where the company pays for expenses only through a credit card and that employee personal funds will never be requested.


• Be skeptical of any text or phone call claiming to be a manager or co-worker that does not originate from their telephone number.


• Verify the identity of the caller or person sending the text before acting upon it.


• Remember that if it sounds unusual or too good to be true, then it is probably a scam.


• Realtors and those involved in the house buying process should also be aware of spoof emails suggesting that closing cost payment account details have suddenly changed. Scammers are skilled at infiltrating email systems and impersonating emails with fake addresses to attempt to divert hefty closing costs to alternate, fraudulent accounts. If you receive such an email, call your realtor or mortgage broker.


For details or to report fraud, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at 800-482-8982 or consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.