People in the tristate area lost $265 million to gift card scams last year, more than twice as much as in 2019, according to AARP. But a Kane In Your Corner investigation finds victims are often left on their own, with no recourse. Some advocates say consumers need more protection.

John and Claire Malecky of Bayonne, New Jersey, are still coping with losing their life savings of more than $104,000 to a scam last summer.

“The nights that I sat up and couldn’t sleep, thinking and thinking, ‘What did I do’?” Claire Maleckty recalls.

The retirees thought Amazon’s fraud department was telling them their bank accounts had been hacked, and the only way to fix it was to withdraw the cash, buy gift cards, and give the scammers the codes. This was supposedly so the money could be transferred to a secure account.

“For two solid weeks, I was traveling around in all kinds of weather,” John…

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