NEW DELHI: Delhi Police has launched an investigation into crooks impersonating Indigo CEO Pieter Elbers and asking the airline employees to buy and send Google Pay gift cards bought on e-seller Amazon. An airline official is learnt to have filed a police FIR seeking prompt action.The crime, called a “boss scam,” has become rampant in the corporate world, with many company employees receiving an unexpected text or email from their bosses asking them to purchase gift cards. Many of the targets are senior executives engaged in the procurement processes or are associated with payments or accounts and they fall prey to the scammers.Recently, a top official of a south India-based media firm fell victim to such a fraud when several of his employees received messages asking for money.A police officer explained, “Typically, the message to employees says that gift cards will be used for some purpose within the company, such as for employee incentives or client appreciation. The scammer, pretending to be a top executive or the targets’ manager, may claim to be out of town, in a conference call or in a meeting and that is why they need the employees to make the purchase for them urgently.”While the specifics of the scams vary, the fraudsters generally follow a common pattern of connecting with a victim via phone and email or on chat platforms and social media and create a sense of emergency or urgency. They avoid voice calls and communicate only through messages. “Once the victim seems vulnerable or greets the conman as the boss, the crooks instruct the victim to purchase gift cards online,” said a police officer. “The scammers then demand or instruct the victim to email the claim code of the gift card by phone, text message or email, after which they disappear.”Cyber cops and experts warn against these crimes and advise full verification of the communicator’s identity before making any payments. As an officer said, “One should not provide any gift card details (such as the claim code) to someone claiming an emergency. Once a claim code is provided to a scammer, the funds will likely be spent before the victim is able to contact law enforcement agencies or the e-commerce site.”The cops caution that legitimate transactions don’t generally require a person to pay specifically with gift cards. “If the communicator insists, be sure it’s a scam,” the officer said. “At times, the crooks also tell victims that they have been granted a loan, won a lottery and have to share a gift card to claim it.”In case one receives such instruction, cyber experts recommend immediately contacting the boss or other seniors using a phone number or email that one knows is theirs. “Always be suspicious of anyone who contacts you and demands money. The crooks even spoof numbers, so checking double is imperative to avoid being duped,” said the officer.