Police warn of gift card scam

Avon, Elyria police working together
Posted at 11:28 PM, Dec 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-10 23:28:41-05

Tis the season…for rip-offs. Police in Northeast Ohio are warning people about a scam involving gift cards.

Officers in Avon and Elyria told News 5 they’re working together to track down a a man accused of sticking used barcodes on top of new gift cards, stealing the value without the purchaser realizing. Police have not made any arrests and would only offer limited details about their investigation.

Here’s how the scam works: The crook buys a gift card and uses up the value. Then he copies the barcode information and sticks it on a new card. The tampered card goes back on the rack for an unsuspecting shopper to pick up.

Information Security consultant Matt Franko with the Cleveland firm Secure State said it does not appear to be a widespread phenomenon, but shoppers should still remain vigilant because most stores will not offer gift card purchasers a refund.


“Make sure you check it when you’re buying it,” Franko said. “If it looks like it was tampered with, it’s probably not one you want to purchase because it puts you at risk.”