I was surprised to read about a new, sophisticated twist on gift card fraud.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office arrested hundreds of suspects accused of ripping off retail chains in a massive anti-theft operation, including disrupting a likely international gift card scam the office has never seen before.
. . .
The suspect, who was only identified as a Chinese national, is likely part of a larger operation in which people take legitimate gift cards off the shelves of stores and "surgically remove" the glue that covers the cards’ barcodes, Gandhi said. They then record the PINs, re-conceal the barcodes with glue, and return the cards to store shelves, the spokesperson explained, adding his office had never seen such an operation before.
Then, when an unsuspecting shopper loads one of the cards with funds, "that money goes straight into a Chinese bank account somewhere," the spokesperson explained.
"It’s going to go unreported because are you going to confront somebody who gave you a $0 gift card, right? No, that's rude. And then you're sitting there fat, dumb and happy, thinking, ‘Oh, I did something nice for somebody,’ not knowing that your money's gone," he said, noting the crime has national and international implications and is not isolated to just Sacramento.
There's more at the link. A photograph shows literally thousands of gift cards arranged on the floor, with police putting out more of them.
I'd never heard of that sort of scam before, but I guess with gift cards becoming more and more popular, it was only a matter of time before someone figured out how to defraud their buyers. If you were planning on buying gift cards to give to family and friends this Christmas, you might want to think again about that; and if you receive a gift card with a $0.00 balance, it might be worth mentioning it to the giver, along with a link to the news article above. If the giver was charged for the gift card, but it had a zero balance, they might want to follow that up with the issuing store.