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GIFT CARD SCAM

I'd like to share with you some important information regarding an ongoing GIFT CARD SCAM involving Lowes, Sears, and Home Depot, especially. This is going on AS WE SPEAK if you just search your local craigslist for gift cards being sold.

There is an organized crime movement that practices this type of crime. They are very good at what they do and I've consulted with somebody who used to do this sort of thing.

bulletFirst step of the criminals is to steal people's credit card numbers.
bulletThe next step is to buy gift cards with these stolen credit card numbers.
bulletThe final step is to sell these gift cards on craigslist/etc for cash.

So lets say Stacy from Newport Beach suddenly had $4,000 total charged to her credit card from Home Depot in Placentia. She's not going to even know about the charge until she checks her statement. This gives at least 2 weeks of time for the gift card to be depleted.

So the next step after the criminals have somebody's CC is they post adds SELLING multiple $500 gift cards for $440 or so. They then sell the gift card to you perhaps through a third party who doesn't know what's going on... You buy and scan the gift card, it works, it shows a balance and seems legit. That is until Stacy finds out she has thousands of dollars charged on her credit card! Thus, she quickly disputes it with her CC company, signs the affidavit, gets her money back and then the gift card gets wiped out.

If you read the fine print on the gift card user agreement you will find out these companies can wipe out a gift card with no reason what so ever.

Then lets say you think you are clever because you know the person's face and have the guys license number who sold you that gift card... Well going to the police won't do you any good because Sheriffs have better things to do and they may just scold you for being so dumb as to buying a gift card from a stranger on the internet. Also, do you think you can PROVE that the person who sold you that gift card is the one that bought it with a stolen card? Probably not, and that's just a taste of what your investigator will use to make you go away. Even Home Depot's Loss Prevention officer may laugh in your face and make you feel like you got suckered.

Anyways, I hope everyone uses their best judgment when buying gift cards and your best bet (Other than avoiding gift cards like the plague) is to USE the gift card BEFORE you pay that person cash. Use every penny of it immediately!!!. This way those large corporations will take the loss and maybe they will realize that this has become a problem and do something about it.

What happened to me when I stood up to home depot corporate? I was completely put down by the legal department in Atlanta which specializes in ironing out trouble makers. Home depot didn't become the nation's largest home improvement corporation by being nice. What's shocking is they will say that this is new to them and this never happens.

Anyways, I hope this does not discourage people from buying gift cards so I will give them the EVIL option:

I will be the trouble maker and actually ENCOURAGE you to buy boosted gift cards as long as you SPEND the gift card the moment you buy it. Make sure you use ALL of the gift card and pay cash for any extra. Don't see anything you like? Buy an expensive item that never goes on sale so you can return it to the store for store credit later...  Remember, Stacy gets her money back.  The credit card company plays the middle man and is not responsible for any investigations, they just pull the money away from Home Depot.  So in the end, Home depot has to deal with the loss.  They just had $4,000 worth of merchandise walk out the door in the hands of innocent loyal customers.  What in the world is a 24 year old loss prevention officer going to do about it when he does inventory and his store is missing 20 Makita 10.2V drills?  He's just going to pray he doesn't lose his job, and if he does then he can concentrate more on school.  Home Depot employees just want customers to stop bugging him, thus they re-direct responsibilities to other people sending you on a blind rabbit hunt.  I drove 50 miles once just to go to a home depot to talk to a loss prevention child.  He tells me that he will call corporate and call me when he finds out more info.  To this day I'm still waiting for his phone call after reminding him 3 times.  Each time I remind him he says:  "I still haven't found anything out, but I'm still waiting for more information, most likely tomorrow I will call you".

Or the GOOD and safer / legitimate option:

Meet the seller at the store in front of the cameras and then ask the person you are buying the gift card for his government issued I.D. and make sure it's not a fake one.
Request the original receipt used to buy the gift card.
Finally, request to see the card that matches the payment used to buy that gift card.

These three steps should quite possibly greatly reduce the chances of you getting scammed.

IN addition, many people who have used these three steps will find that the person selling them that $500 gift card will just walk away after you ask them for an I.D.

If that's the case, congratulations.

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Last modified: 03/24/10