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Tag: fraud

Ways to Avoid Gift Card Scams

There have been a variety of scams people have fallen victim to when trying to redeem their gift cards. Here are a few tips and situations to help you avoid being ripped off of your money.

1. After purchasing the card immediately write your initials on the back of it in permanent marker.

When an unknowing consumer goes to use their gift card at the place of purchase, the cashier will switch the card with a different one containing no value. When the cashier tries to verify the card and the value is zero the consumer is out of luck. Don’t let this happen to you by just writing your initials on the back of the card you won’t be fooled by such a trick.

2. Scratch off the account & pin number on the back of the card & write it down while also registering your card online

Scammers will copy down the account & pin numbers off of cards in stores like Walgreens that sell gift cards to a variety of places like Olive Garden Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble. They will then call and look up to see when the card was activated and if so they will use the account number to shop online. If you card is registered to your name and you can prove ownership with the account and pin number you will be able to retain the value.

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Warning! Beware of Fake Gift Card Balance Sites

An article was just released on Thursday from the Consumerist about fake gift card balance sites that are looking to steal the value of your gift card. The sites were professionally designed and executed, but immediately taken down after the submission to google that these sites were fake.

If you wish to check the balance of your gift card online it his highly advised to make sure that you are at the correct URL for the company that supports the card. For example the sites url’s used were “” and “” While these sites were designed to fool even seasoned web users it is recommended to navigate the original home page and then find the link to checking your balance.

Avoid anything involving “my____giftcard”

Sean writes,

I was recently trying to sell an Apple gift card on CraigsList and received a bite from a “buyer” who claimed they wanted the card but wanted me to take a screen shot of the balance from

Having been scammed before on gift card BS, I was very wary esp since I didn’t want to scratch off the pin for someone who may or may not buy the card. Especially since the woman didn’t want to give out any info and pulled the old “you seem sketchy since you won’t do this” card to try to put me on the defensive.

Continue reading here at The Consumerist

Gift Card Fraud – 6 arrested in $1 million gift card scam

Six women, who are being called by Police as “The Richmond Girls,” were arrested in Sacramento, CA for allegedly encoding stolen credit card information onto gift cards, then using them to buy more than $1 million worth of merchandise at area stores.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Investigators allege that the women purchased more than $540,000 in goods from Target and Wal-Mart alone. The women are part of an international crime ring and wired more than $120,000 to Eastern Europe, including Russia and Ukraine. Investigators believe the transfers paid for stolen credit account numbers from foreign banks. The numbers were re-encoded onto gift cards using equipment legally bought over the Internet.

One of the reasons why they were able to get away with their crime was that unlike credit cards, gift card users are not required to show ID since gift cards are considered the same as cash. And if a card was declined, instead of becoming suspicious, most clerks may incorrectly assume that the gift card value has been used up.

This is very scary. As always, it is a good idea to check your credit card statements or regularly log in online to make sure nothing unusual is going on with your account.

Police, FBI arrest Kentucky woman for stealing $200,000 in gift cards

An Evansville, Kentucky woman is in jail, after police said they found over $200,000 in stolen gift cards inside her home. According to police, the woman presented false information to a Kroger grocery store and attempted to purchase gift cards by obtaining a line of credit using her employer’s name.

I am surprised that she was able to purchase such a large amount of gift cards without anyone becoming suspicious, especially since the purchases happened over a 2-3 month period. Click here for the full story.

Gift Card Fraud & Scams Series – Part II

Gift Cards Stolen from the Mail at the Post Office

In case you have not been following this series on Gift Card Fraud and Scams, Part I of the series, which was posted last week, talks about secret credit card recording and how that is used to perpetuate gift card fraud. Today’s post will focus on gift card fraud at the post office.

I posted this article back in march 2008 – Gift Card Alert: USPS may have lost the gift card you mailed alerting readers about the need to properly package gift cards before they mail them since it appears gift cards are being lost at the post office due to improper packaging.

While the post office places the blame for missing gift cards on customers, it appears a few bad apples among the post office employees are taking advantage of the situation and may be going as far as stealing gift cards from mail that may have been properly packaged.

A recent arrest of a McAllen, TX postal worker for stealing gift cards from the mail got me curious. I did a quick search on Google news and came up with similar post office arrests over the last year or so, including the following:

April 24, 2008 – Charlottesville, VA (A Postal worker pleads guilty to stealing mail that contained money and gift cards)

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Gift Card Fraud & Scams Series – Part I

Secret Credit Card Recording & Gift Card Windfall

As I mentioned on May 10th, in celebration of the newly redesigned, I will be running a four part series on Gift Card Fraud and Scams.

I will be discussing the major types of gift card scams out there and provide you with tips on how to avoid becoming a victim. Today’s post will focus on credit card skimming and how that is used to perpetrate gift card fraud.

A recent arrest of two men in Herkimer, NY has led police into what could be one of the most sophisticated gift card and credit card schemes out there. According to a story on, police seized about 100 debit and gift cards from the two men, which were apparently used to defraud local Wal-Mart stores.

The case began to unfold as one of the men tried to buy $800 in Wal-Mart gift cards using multiple credit cards that were each denied. Police found that during the two day period, the suspects had purchased $39,000 worth of Wal-Mart gift cards and electronic equipment in Herkimer and Rome, NY. At the Rome, NY Wal-Mart alone, the two men made about $8,000 in purchases in one hour. So how does the scheme work?

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