BOLIVAR, Mo. — An 86-year-old woman in Bolivar is sharing her story after losing nearly $15,000 to a gift card scam.

“I would wake up in a cold sweat after this happened thinking ‘how on Earth did this happen?’ It completely shatters your self-confidence,” Janet Wray a victim of a gift card scam said.

She hopes her story will help others not fall for the same trick.

Well it happened after Halloween.

At the time, she was excited to hear from her daughter who was out of town. So, the moment she heard her phone ring, she answered without checking who it was.

“It was a woman who said that my Apple Cloud had been hacked,” Wray said. “And I thought this was a little strange.”

Wray stores her data on iCloud, so she started to worry.

“They transferred me to this man, he talked to me and this had been hacked by something like 42 people,” Wray said. “For some reason, I continued listening to him rather than saying ‘this is silly.”

The man told her that she needed to buy gift cards to protect her information.

The caller said Wray would get reimbursed later.

“Then he said ‘well you need to go to Walmart and get a gift card for $500,'” Wray said.

Her next stops? Walgreens and Target.

She bought 29 $500 gift cards.

The man told her to tell store clerks that the cards were presents for her grandkids.

“I don’t know how I got into this but literally I felt like I was being held hostage,” Wray said.

Overall, Wray lost $14,500.

“I’m lucky that he didn’t get more,” Wray said. “It was probably a week or so after this happened that I called the Better Business Bureau.”

Stephanie Garland the Springfield Regional Director at the BBB says gift cards have consistently topped the Federal Trade Commission’s list of reported fraud payments since 2018.

“During that time people reported a loss of nearly $245 million, with the median individual loss of $840,” Garland said.

To avoid this scam, she says you shouldn’t send someone a picture of the back of a card.

“Once you do that, before you even get to your car, the money is probably gone,” Garland said.

If you get a call similar to Wray’s experience, Garland says look up apple’s number on BBB.org.

“And call Apple and check what’s going on,” Garland said. “Most of the time, probably all the time, they’re going to tell you that they’re not calling you.”

Garland says the gift cards most commonly purchased by scam victims are for Ebay, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon and Target.

If someone calls you and mentions one of those companies, she says you should hang up.

BBB released a study on this type of scam, and you can find a link here. You can also learn more here.