Woman contacts 8 On Your Side after trouble with Target following a scam

PASCO COUNTY, Fla.  (WFLA) – A Pasco County woman is stuck in a tug of war with Target, so she turned to 8 On Your Side for help.

Diana Barry fell for a scam that cost her thousand of dollars. The scam required her to buy Target gift cards.

“I was just so terrified,” Barry told 8 On Your Side Thursday night. She can’t forget that terrifying call she received in August from a man claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service demanding she pay her back taxes.

Barry didn’t owe any back taxes – but fear got the best of her. “And I knew, I knew in the back of my head that it was all wrong but I did it anyway because I was terrified,” she said while sitting outside her Pasco County apartment.

The caller told Barry to go to the Target store near her home in New Port Richey and buy $3,500 in gift cards. She was told to scratch off the back of the gift cards and give the caller the access numbers.

Barry did exactly that. However, she quickly came to her senses. “At one point I really realized this was a scam,” she said.

So she called the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. Officials told Barry to cancel the cards. That’s exactly what she did – but not before the crooks bought $600 worth of merchandise using two of the cards.

As for the remaining $2,900, Target sent Barry new gift cards instead of issuing a refund. “That money needs to be in my checking account so I can pay my bills, but they won’t give it back to me,” said Barry, who lives on a fixed income.

For three months she’s called frequently called Target – without success. She’s almost ready to throw in the towel. “But I can’t fight with them anymore,” she cried. “I’m too tired.”

Meanwhile, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office wants the public to know about this scam, which continues to make the rounds.

“It’s better just to say, ‘No, I’m sorry … I can’t provide you with that information and hang up the phone,'” Pasco Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Melanie Snow said.

Target declined to tell News Channel 8 whether the company could track the purchases made by the scammers.

Target sent News Channel 8 the following statement:

“Target is pleased to offer GiftCards to our guests. Here are a few tips for keeping your GiftCards safe and secure.

  • Treat your GiftCards like cash. Avoid leaving them out where they’re visible and could be easily taken.
  • Once you receive or purchase a Target GiftCard, it’s always a good idea to use your Target.com account to enter your GiftCard codes using your private username and password. This way, you have a record if your GiftCard is lost or stolen.
  • If you do misplace a GiftCard or suspect suspicious activity on a GiftCard you have purchased, report it to a store immediately or contact our Guest Contact Center at 800-440-0680.”

News Channel 8 reached out to Target again for specific information about this case. The company sent this statement:

“It’s typically our goal at Target to work directly with guests to resolve matters. We encourage her to contact us if she has additional questions.”

Barry showed News Channel 8 notes from phone calls she has made to guest relations. News Channel 8 suggested she contact the same media relations contact we spoke with.

Here’s what the spokesperson said:

“I won’t be able to help her specifically, but she should contact the number I reference below. I’ll let the team know to be on the lookout for a call from her.”

WFLA.com will provide updates on this case.

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