Law enforcement warns of potential gift card tampering in the area

Published 11:44 am Monday, November 6, 2023

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FOOTHILLS—As the holiday season approaches, local law enforcement is warning the public to be careful when shopping for gift cards to prevent potential fraud.

Lieutenant Kevin Bobo with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office says there is a trend moving into our area of scammers stealing gift cards from retail stores, then placing their own barcodes over that of the actual gift cards to route the funds into their accounts.

“The new barcode will route any funds placed on the gift card at the time of the purchase directly into the scammer’s account,” says Lt. Bobo. “Another way the scammers are successful is that they can record the gift card number or PIN, and once the funds are placed onto the purchased gift cards the funds are transferred into a separate account.”  

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In both of these methods, the gift cards are stolen from the store, and the barcodes are created and placed on the cards before they are placed back on the shelves of a store. This can also be deceiving because the cards can be stolen from one location and then placed back on the shelves in a completely different location, many times in different states, Lt. Bobo says.  

Inspecting the packaging for unusual texture, which may indicate tampering, and looking for manufactured stickers that may have been placed over the original barcode which should be printed on the gift card are two ways to prevent becoming a victim.

“Also, inspect the card for wear or tampering of the PIN and ensure that a secondary scratch-off has not replaced the original,” Lt.Bobo said. “Check for raised areas in the packaging to ensure that it hasn’t been opened and subsequently resealed.”

Look for consistency in the actual card numbers, and make sure all numbers are printed clearly on the gift cards and there is no shadowing or unusual font, he adds.

If you have any doubt about the legitimacy of the gift card, report it to a store associate for review.