Tagged: gift cards Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 6, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gift card draining, gift cards, ,   

    Police warn of gift card draining scam 

    Police warn of gift card draining scam

    By Greg Collier

    Gift cards are a great idea when shopping during the holiday season. If you have someone on your Christmas list who is difficult to shop for or lives far away, a gift card can be the ideal present. However, it should be known that gift cards are also prone to fraud. The fraud doesn’t come from the companies who issue the cards, nor does it come from the stores who carry them. Instead, it comes from scammers who are looking to make a quick buck at the shoppers’ expense.

    While most scams are perpetrated online these days, this gift card scam requires the scammer to have physical access to the card. This requires the scammers to shoplift the gift cards. After leaving the store, the scammers engage in a scheme where they extract the security strip from the card and capture its number. Subsequently, they affix adhesive strips to replace the security strips before strategically returning the cards to the store rack. Upon a customer loading money onto the compromised gift card, the scammers receive notifications and promptly deplete the card of its funds. Typically, customers remain oblivious to the fraud until an attempt to use the gift card is made, often weeks or even months after the initial purchase. Recovering the funds is exceedingly uncommon once the card has been emptied.

    Police in the Philadelphia suburbs recently issued a warning about this scam, as they have recently received reports of hundreds of prepaid debit cards and Apple gift cards being tampered with at a local supermarket chain.

    To safeguard yourself from falling victim to this gift card scam, consider taking the following precautions. When purchasing gift cards, opt for one from the middle of the pack, as they are less likely to have been tampered with. Thoroughly inspect the card for any signs of alteration, particularly if the security strip appears wrinkled or crooked, as these may indicate tampering. Retain the receipt when acquiring a gift card, as it can prove valuable in assisting you later if the card is found to be emptied.

    In the unfortunate event that you discover a tampered card, promptly contact the issuing company using the customer service number provided on the back of the card. While there is no guarantee of recovering your funds, taking this step can significantly expedite the resolution process.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 20, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gift cards,   

    Arrest shows how gift card scam works 

    Arrest shows how gift card scam works

    By Greg Collier

    Gift cards are used in so many scams, they should be called red flag cards. Typically, scammers will try to get their victims to pay them in gift cards for something that normally isn’t paid for in that way. Gift cards cannot be used to pay your utility bill, a legal fine, or as a rental deposit. As soon as someone gets asked by a stranger to pay for something with gift cards, they should know that’s a surefire sign of a scam. However, there is another scam that anyone can fall victim to, and it targets the gift cards themselves.

    Recently, in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, a man was arrested for allegedly stealing gift cards from a CVS store. After police apprehended the man, they searched his car and found 30 lb. boxes filled with gift cards. Police also found heat guns, blow dryers, adhesive strips, and other tools used to alter the cards.

    After scammers steal the gift cards, they remove the security strip from the card and record the card’s number. The security strips are replaced with the adhesive strips before the scammers place the cards back on the rack at the store. Once a customer puts money on the gift card, the scammers are notified, and they drain the card of all funds. Customers usually don’t find out until someone goes to use the gift card, which could be weeks or months after the date of purchase. When the card is emptied, it’s very rare for a customer to get their money back.

    There are steps you can take to protect yourself from this gift card scam. When buying gift cards, take one from the middle of the pack, as they are less likely to have been tapered with. Check the card for signs of alteration. If the security strip appears wrinkled or crooked, there’s a good chance it’s been tampered with. When buying a gift card, keep the receipt, as this could assist you later if the card has been emptied.

    If you do get stuck with a tampered card, call the issuing company immediately at the customer service number on the back of the card. While this isn’t a guarantee your funds will be recovered, it will go a long way in expediting that process.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 5, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gift cards, ,   

    Both rich and poor can fall for romance scams 

    By Greg Collier

    Within the past year or so, when it comes to romance scams, all the talk has been around the pig butchering scam. This is when romance scammers get their victims to invest in a phony cryptocurrency exchange. Victims of the pig butchering scam tend to be on the more wealthy side, with victims losing tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars each. This may lull people who don’t make as much money into a false sense of security. But believe us when we say scammers don’t care how much or little you make. They’ll try to take it anyway.

    For example, a man from Tulsa, Oklahoma, recently came forward to his local media about being the victim of a romance scam. The scammers claimed to be a woman in the military stationed in Iraq, and they were lonely and just needed someone to talk to. It quickly became a romantic relationship.

    As with every romance scam, the requests for money eventually happened. The scammer claimed their bank account was frozen, and they needed money to pay for internet in Iraq, so they could keep communicating. Before the man knew it, he was sending gift cards of $100 a month to the scammer. This relationship went on for about 18-months.

    We’re pretty sure the victims of pig butchering scams wish they only lost $100 a month to their scams. However, the victim in today’s story is a man who is disabled and living on a fixed income. To him, this could be the equivalent of the other victims losing six figures to the scammers. He was also probably not the scammer’s only victim. There could be dozens of other victims the scammers are taking $100 a month from. This could add up to thousands of dollars a month very quickly. No matter how much or how little someone makes, scammers will look to take a big chunk of it, if not all of it.

    If you have doubts about someone’s identity, do some research. You can use reverse image searches to check if their profile picture appears elsewhere on the internet. Scammers often use stolen photos. Never send money or gifts to someone you’ve only met online, regardless of their sob story or urgent requests. Scammers often ask for money for emergencies, travel expenses, or to help with various crises. Discuss your online relationships with trusted friends and family members. They can provide valuable perspective and help you stay grounded in reality.

    Remember that scammers are skilled at manipulating emotions and creating elaborate stories. They can be very convincing, so it’s essential to stay vigilant and prioritize your safety when forming online relationships. If you’re unsure about someone’s intentions, seek advice from trusted sources before taking any further steps.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 25, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gift cards,   

    Can you get your gift card money back after a scam? 

    Can you get your gift card money back after a scam?

    By Greg Collier

    We’ve often said gift cards are the currency of scammers. This is because once scammers get the funds from the card, that money is typically gone forever. Victims usually had little to no recourse once scammers emptied the cards. However, a recent news report claims that better protections are coming for gift card buyers.

    There was a time when gift cards were used in just about any scam. A scammer would pose as some business or authority and demand payment in gift cards. The victim would be asked to read the numbers from the cards to the scammer. From there, the scammers would make immediate purchases using the cards, then sell the essentially stolen items.

    Now, according to CBS News, companies that issue gift cards are stepping up efforts to combat gift card scams. Large companies are named in this report, such as Amazon, Apple, Target, and Walmart. The report states that companies are now flagging or freezing transactions used with stolen gift cards.

    While that may be true, it seems the directions for a victim to get their money back is nothing new. According to the FTC, who was quoted by CBS News, the first thing a victim should do is contact the card’s issuer to notify them of the stolen cards. Then the FTC goes on to state if the scammer has not drained the card yet, the victim may get their money back.

    The problem with this procedure is there is a tiny window between the time the card numbers are given to the scammer, and the time the cards are emptied. Unfortunately, some victims don’t even realize they’ve been scammed until days later, if at all. If a victim isn’t calling a card issuer within minutes after being scammed, their money will probably never be recouped.

    The best protection against a gift card scam is to recognize it before it happens. Gift cards should only be used as gifts and should only be redeemed at the outlets they’re intended for. They can’t be used to pay police or any other law enforcement agency. They can’t be used for any kind of debt that someone is trying to collect. If someone asks you for gift cards, and they’re not intended as gifts, the odds are you’re talking to a scammer.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 19, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gift cards, ,   

    Grandmother falls prey to puppy scam while gifting grandson 

    Grandmother falls prey to puppy scam while gifting grandson

    By Greg Collier

    A grandmother in North Carolina took in her grandson after the boy’s mother passed away. To give him a better sense of belonging, she decided to buy him a puppy. The grandmother found someone on Facebook who claimed to be selling Yorkshire Terrier puppies. These puppies were even said to be registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC).

    The puppies were being sold for $525, which should have been the first red flag. Purebred Yorkies that are registered with the AKC tend to go for anywhere between $1000 and $3000. The next red flag came in the form of payment the seller requested. She was asked to make the payment in gift cards. The seller instructed her to take pictures of the front and back of the gift cards along with the receipts.

    Then, like in most scams, once the victim makes an initial payment, the scammers try to get more money out of them. In this case, the scammers told the grandmother she needed to pay for a special shipping crate for the puppy, along with insurance and other fees. Before it was all over, she had sent the scammers $5000.

    She received an email that contained information on when the puppy would arrive, but no puppy was ever delivered.

    If you’re thinking about buying a puppy online, this statistic may make you reconsider that. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), more than 80% of social media posts that list puppies for sale are scams.

    When seeking a specific breed, opt for reputable breeders conveniently located within driving distance for an in-person visit. Prioritize meeting the puppy before finalizing the purchase. Before dealing with any local breeder, conduct thorough research to avoid potential risks. Steer clear of puppy mills or backyard breeders, as they often house sick animals with severe health issues.

    But as always, we urge our readers to consider adopting a puppy from your local shelter. Typically, puppies can be obtained from shelters at little to no expense.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 10, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gift cards, , , ,   

    Another family homeless after rental scam 

    By Greg Collier

    After mistakenly believing they had legitimately rented a home, a Florida family finds themselves homeless and forced to live on the streets. Tragically, stories like this are becoming far too common, as rental scammers continue to prey on families who are just looking for a roof over their heads.

    This family found a home for rent in their price range on Facebook Marketplace. The person who listed the home on Marketplace then directed the family to tour the home using an app called Rently. For those unfamiliar with Rently, it’s a service that allows prospective tenants to view and access rental properties without the need for a leasing agent or property manager to be present. Lockboxes are put on the doors of homes for rent or sale, and people who want to tour the home are given a combination to the lockbox, which has the keys in it.

    To get access to these homes, scammers will pose as prospective renters or buyers just so they can get the lockbox combination. Many realtors aren’t very good about changing the lockbox combinations, so scammers can use them repeatedly if need be.

    After the family toured the home and said they were interested in renting, the supposed landlord asked them for four months rent in advance, which came to an eye-watering $7000. Part of the payment was even asked for in eBay gift cards.

    After they moved in to the home, a sheriff’s deputy showed up at the door to inform the family they were trespassing and needed to leave.

    The home was available for rent, but was being rented out by a property management company.

    To add insult to injury, the family’s trailer that they were towing broke just a few feet after leaving the property.

    Just because an ad is listed on a multi-billion dollar platform like Facebook Marketplace doesn’t guarantee the listing is legitimate. Facebook was a haven for scammers long before Marketplace was implemented. Another red flag in this story is the landlord not being present during the home’s tour, or at any other time at all. And the biggest red flag was when partial payment was asked for in gift cards. As we are fond of saying, gift cards are the currency of scammers.

    We understand there are times when someone needs to find a new home quickly as possible. But no matter the reason, prospective renters should always take the time to research a property before paying any money. Research the going rate for rental homes in that area. If the home you’re looking at seems like a bargain, be suspicious. Do a web search on the address to see if other listings appear with different realtor names and rental prices, as scammers often copy legitimate real estate listings. And as always, you can check with the county’s tax assessor office or website to see who the true owner of the home really is.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 23, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gift cards, , , ,   

    Are retailers responsible for gift card scams? 

    Are retailers responsible for gift card scams?

    By Greg Collier

    We can’t hear the term ‘git card’ without almost immediately thinking of scams. They’ve become synonymous with scams, since they’re often used as a form of untraceable payment in a vast number of scams. Gift cards can also be the scam itself.

    One common gift card scam is when scammers visit stores to capture the information from the back of gift cards. They patiently wait until someone loads money onto the cards, and then use the funds for their own purposes, leaving the cardholders at a loss.

    Another version of that scam is when gift card scammers frequently visit different stores and scratch off the security strip from the card. They then take note of the card number and replace the security strip with a sticker.

    What both scams have in common is that the scammers need to go into the stores themselves. Because of this, some believe the retailers that sell the cards are partially responsible for when the funds are stolen from the cards. 21 states have filed a class action lawsuit against the Target retail chain, accusing Target of knowingly selling compromised cards. Does the lawsuit have merit? Possibly.

    Retail stores almost always have gift card kiosks out in the open, where potentially anyone could interfere with the cards’ validity. Some advocates have called for the cards to be kept behind counters or in vending machines.

    However, until that day comes, there are ways to protect yourself from buying a faulty gift card.

    To avoid falling victim to gift card fraud, there are a few precautions you can take. Firstly, always inspect the back of the card to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with. Check a handful of cards from the rack to make sure they are similarly marked on the back, as scammers often place tampered cards up front to get the money quicker. When purchasing a card, consider buying one from the middle of the pack instead.

    It’s also advisable to pay for gift cards with a credit card whenever possible. Credit cards offer better protection against loss than cash or debit cards.

    If you do happen to receive an empty card, you can try contacting the customer service number on the back of the card. However, be aware that it is unlikely they can recover the lost funds or offer a refund.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 23, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , gift cards, ,   

    Old used car scam still thriving 

    By Greg Collier

    When something has been around a long time, it sometimes gets taken for granted. Many people will assume that others just know about it. However, there are always going to be those who are just learning about whatever it is we might assume is common knowledge. That’s what we’re dealing with in today’s scam.

    A Tennessee man recently lost hundreds of dollars to a used car scam, not at any dealership, but on Facebook Marketplace. The man found a 2001 Toyota Tacoma for $800, which was right in his price range. When the man contacted the seller, he was met with a very old scam.

    The seller claimed to be in the military and was getting ready to ship out. They were supposedly selling the truck because they didn’t want to pay for insurance and storage while deployed. In addition to that, the seller claimed their spouse recently passed away and that was another reason they wanted to sell the truck.

    Being deployed with the military is a tactic that scammers have been using since the earliest days of online marketplaces. Not only does the story garner sympathy from the buyer, but it also lends legitimacy as to why the vehicle is being sold well below market value.

    Another story scammers like to use is the one about the deceased relative. Typically, the scammer will say the vehicle belonged to this relative, and they’re selling it due to grief. This scammer used both stories to fleece their victim.

    To add yet another layer to the scam, the buyer was told that the truck was going to be delivered by eBay and that he needed to pay for the car in gift cards. While eBay does have a platform where you can buy and sell cars, they do not deliver any vehicles. Again, this is a common tactic used by scammers to make the phony purchase seem more legitimate.

    If you’re looking to buy a car online from a private seller, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is, if the seller is claiming they’re selling the car because they’re leaving the area, be very wary. This is especially so if the seller claims the vehicle’s owner is in the military. Also, be careful when any claims are made that the vehicle’s owner is recently deceased. Lastly, never pay any private seller with gift cards. That is a surefire sign that you’re being scammed.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 10, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gift cards, , ,   

    Victim threatened with animal abuse charges in puppy scam 

    By Greg Collier

    A woman from Oklahoma recently fell victim to an online puppy scam. The victim lost $5,800 to the scammers, which is one of the higher amounts we’ve seen lost to this scam.

    If you’ve never heard of a puppy scam, there are actually a few different scams called puppy scams. The one we’re discussing today is the one where, typically, no puppy actually exists. The scammers set up phony websites where they claim to be breeders. They tend to advertise one specific breed in the scam. The pictures on the scammers’ websites are usually stolen from other place on the internet, but used as if they were selling the pictured puppies.

    Once the scammers have found a victim, they’ll string the victim along while trying to extract multiple payments from the victim. No puppy is ever sent to the victim.

    The victim was shopping online for a Maltipoo puppy for her husband for Christmas, after they lost their family pet. After placing the order with the website, she was asked for a down payment to be made by American Express gift card. She was told that payment didn’t go through and needed to make the deposit again. Then she was asked for money for shipping, then for puppy daycare, until the amount lost to the scammers was $5,800.

    When she told the scammers, she wasn’t paying them any more money, they threatened her by saying that she would be facing ‘puppy abandonment’ charges if she didn’t pay.

    While shopping for most things online is convenient, a pet shouldn’t be shopped for online. If you’re looking to buy a specific breed, look for legitimate breeders that are within driving distance from your location. It’s best that you see the puppy in person before buying one. But even if you’re going to a local breeder, research them first before making any kind of purchase. Make sure you’re not buying from a puppy mill or backyard breeder, where the animals are often sick with terminal illnesses.

    Lastly, we always hope that if our readers are in the market for a puppy that they consider adopting from their local shelter. You can usually adopt for little to no cost, and you’re giving a lonely puppy a home.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 1, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , gift cards, , , , , , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: Scammer dresses as cop and more 

    Scam Round Up: Scammer dresses as cop and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week on the round up, we’re bringing you three scams that may not be new, but have a new aspect to them.


    For our first scam, we have a Nebraska woman who lost $53,000 to a pop-up scam. She got a pop-up on her computer that said someone had used her personal information for online gambling. The pop-up also had a number to call. The woman called the number, and the person she spoke with claimed to be from her bank. She was told she needed to transfer her money to a separate bank account to protect her money. The new aspect of this scam is that she was told when the person who supposedly stole her information tried to take money from her account, they would be arrested. Instead, she transferred her money to scammers.

    Never call any phone number that appears on a computer pop-up. Those numbers only go to scammers, no matter what the pop-up might say.


    Our next scam shows how well-informed scammers can be. In Los Alamos, New Mexico, retirees of the historic Los Alamos National Lab, were recently told their prescription insurance would no longer be taken at Kroger pharmacies. This story doesn’t get any more local. However, it hasn’t escaped the purview of scammers. Residents have reported that they’ve received phone calls from people impersonating the prescription insurance company. These callers have been asking for personal information like Social Security numbers and dates of birth.

    Health insurance companies typically only call customers when the customer has called them first. Also, the health insurance companies typically don’t ask a customer for their Social Security number, as most insurance companies use their own internal ID numbers for their customers.

    If you get a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from your insurance company, hang up and call them directly at the customer service number on your health insurance card.


    Lastly, we have a disturbing version of the arrest warrant scam, as if that weren’t disturbing enough. In the arrest warrant scam, scammers will pose as local police and call their victims. The scammers will tell their victims they’ve missed jury duty and a warrant has been issued for the victim’s arrest. The victim will then be instructed to make payment through gift cards or pre-paid debit cards. But this scam usually only takes place over the phone.

    In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, this scam is said to have stepped into the real world. A man dressed as an officer from the local County Sheriff’s office approached a woman and told her she would need to buy $8,000 in gift cards to avoid arrest for missing jury duty.

    It’s unclear how the victim in this news story was approached, however, if you’re approached by someone you think may be impersonating an officer, there are steps you can take. If you’re approached at your vehicle or home, call 911 and ask them if you’re being contacted by an actual officer. Police dispatch will have a record of it if they are an actual officer.

    No police officer would ever stop someone and threaten them with arrest if they didn’t pay a fine then and there. Police would also never ask for payment in gift cards.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc