Why Would A Scammer Want a Gift Card on Steam? It’s Actually Simple

steam gift cards

There’s one common scam that leaves many puzzled – the Steam gift card scam. Ok, scammers will do anything to separate you from your hard-earned money, you get that. Still, why would a scammer want a gift card on Steam, of all places? Once a family friend lost about $600 sending someone who was not a gamer a bunch of Steam gift cards, I had the same question – and decided to look around.

The answer to this question is oddly prosaic, but it did settle my curiosity.

Why scammers use Steam gift cards

In short, scammers want gift cards on Steam because they’re very quickly sold to someone else to almost the same amount they cost. 

The person scammed spends $50 in real cash for a $50 Steam card, the scammer sells that Steam card for $40 or even $45. 

For them, that small difference is almost like paying Paypal fees – it doesn’t make their scam less profitable. Since even some pawn shops accept gift cards, this is a profitable avenue for scammers.

Steam gift cards can also be redeemed and turned into in-game goods that can also be sold further along in their digital marketplace, but that’s something most scammers won’t do, as they risk dealing with bans. Usually, what happens is that as soon as the victim sends a scammer a code for a Steam gift card, the scammer will just use an online service to exchange it for currency (or cryptocurrency).

On Reddit, some say scammers will even set-up fake games with fake in-game currency to launder money:

“A while ago someone mentioned on this sub that they set up basic “games” with in-app purchases and use the gift cards to purchase stuff within the game. Then they get the money directly, but it’s still untraceable. Not sure if that’s what they’re actually doing, but it sounded plausible?,“ wrote one user. 

Considering how easy to launch an app on Android, even a sketchy one, it does seem plausible and very likely.

Gift card scams are so commonplace, at this point most services who deal with them have bad reputations – earned or otherwise – and people hesitate to use them. A lot of times, the only reason someone would sell a gift card is because they scammed someone for it, and they’re now trying to cash out. 

Still, what do you do if you’re a regular person and you just have a few Christmas gift cards you just don’t want to spend?

A service for this scenario is CardCash, who promises to let you sell or exchange unwanted gift cards. 

Is CardCash legit?

Considering all the Steam gift card scams, you’d think a service like CardCash is a scam also. However, it’s fortunately not the case.

CardCash’s promise to let you exchange one gift card for another, say a Steam card for a Walmart card, is actually real. From what I’ve seen, the company does its due diligence to make sure it doesn’t inadvertently enable scammers. 

All accounts with CardCash have to be verified, as CardCash asks for your credit card number before they will give you money in exchange for a gift card. This way, if someone sells you a gift card, then quickly uses the code, or if the code is invalid, CardCash will charge their credit card for that amount. 

Obviously, a dedicated scammer could find a way around those safety systems, as nothing online is truly truly secure, but for everyday purposes CardCash is a good way to get rid of unwanted gift cards. Still, one quick tip I have to help you avoid gift card scams is to always google search the service and add “reddit” to your query. 

If you search, let’s say “cardcash reddit”, you’ll see recent opinions from people who used the service – and make an informed decision.

And if you think someone was trying to scam you or a friend out of Steam gift cards?

Please report the scam immediately to the authorities – it helps more than you think!

The FTC has a wonderful guide to spot most types of gift cards scams and asks people to register any attempts. 

If you tell the FTC what happened at their Report Fraud webpage, your report will be shared with thousands of law enforcement agents. 

Since scam and fraud ring cases usually take months or years to build, your report could actually be something that moves the needle in the right direction.

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